Yoga For Back Pain — Part 2

Improving mobility of the lower body is also important in controlling back pain.

Tightness in large muscles in the lower body are also very frequent causes of in low back pain. The most common culprits are the hamstrings (back of your thigh) and the hip flexor, a deep muscle in the front of your hip that attaches to the low back. The hip flexor can causes increased curve in the low back  and pulls your pelvis forward if it is tight. The hamstrings often cause a flattening of the curve in the low back and tilt the pelvis backwards when it is tight. This creates abnormal stresses upon the spine.

Again review detailed instruction on each pose at

  1. Hip Flexor Stretching: Stretch should be felt in front of hip and thigh of the back leg.

  2. Hamstring stretching: There are many forms of hamstring stretching. Performing stretching on one’s back is the safest place to begin because the back is supported, minimizing stress on the spine.

Lastly, yoga is beneficial in stabilizing the core by increasing abdominal awareness with the use of breath work. Breath assists the expansion and contraction of the abdominal cavity which houses the abdominal and lumbar musculature. So, as we deepen our breath in and use our breath to propel our motion it stimulates the activation of these muscles. Yoga teaches us to draw our attention to our core and move mindfully from our center to build strength and stability in the spine.

Standing and balance poses also encourage simultaneous contraction of muscles in the front and back of the body. This teaches the core to work in the ways that we move on a daily basis. Therefore, the combination of awareness, breath, and balance poses make yoga endurance work out for our core.

This article highlights only some of the ways yoga can assist in treating low back pain. However, it is important to note that not all back pain is the same. Different diagnoses have different causes and aggravating factors. It is important understand your limitations before initiating a yoga program. Yoga is not appropriate for treating severe back pain or acute aggravation of back pain. Yoga is a great way to manage low back pain that has been diagnosed and controlled. Please consult your physical therapist or primary care physician before you begin. Namaste.

If you have any questions or are interested in more information on this topic check out or contact Ericka at (401) 884-9541

Post contributed by: Ericka Fryburg MPT

Why am I Taller in the Morning?

Ever notice that when you get into your car at the end of the day you need to readjust the mirrors? Somehow you are not sitting as tall as you did when you got into the car in the morning. Are you shrinking?

Well, yes, in a way you are. The discs in your back are cushions of sorts and they react to pressure. After a good nights sleep lying stretched out without compression on your spine the discs are full and plump. This makes your spine a little longer and taller. Once you are up sitting, walking and vertical all day gravity takes its effect and slowly compresses those discs. As they compress they loss a bit of fluid and and become a bit narrower bringing your vertebrae closer together. Essentially you are shorter than when you started your day!

Over time our discs become "dehydrated" and are less plump and flexible. This is part of the reason that over our lifetime we may lose up to 2 inches or so. On average we begin shrinking at about age 40 and lose about a 1/4 inch per decade. If you are losing more height than that some other issues may be involved. You could be losing muscle bulk and decreased strength allowing for poor posture that can result in decreased height. Osteoporosis could also be a culprit as the bones lose density they can also compress.

So don't be surprised when you need to adjust your mirrors. It's part of standing upright all day. If you feel you are losing more than the average be sure to check in with your physician or physical therapist to be sure there are no other factors involved. Try to keep yourself active, maintain your muscle tone and strength. These will keep you standing tall. Visit RI Limb Prosthetics, Orthotics And Physical Therapy for more information or call (401) 884-9541

Vertigo — The Room is Spinning, Make it Stop

Vertigo can be caused by many things including head trauma, stroke, neurological issues or tumors. This post will focus on a very easily treated form of vertigo -- BPPV (Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo). This type of vertigo is related to changes in position of the crystals that are a component of the inner ear.

Symptoms include brief bursts of dizziness, spinning sensations, nausea and or lightheadedness. Some complain of a vague sense of not being "grounded" and being off balance. Symptoms are often intermittent being present for a few days or weeks, stopping and recurring again.

The symptoms are usually noted with positional changes like:

  • rolling in bed,
  • moving the head from looking down to looking up
  • quickly twisting or turning the head
  • bending over

Activities that bring on symptoms will vary from person to person but symptoms are almost always precipitated by a change of position of the head with respect to gravity. Getting out of bed or rolling over in bed are the most common problem motions.

What causes the onset of BPPV? Commonly reported causes are hitting your head, whiplash, infection or other disorders of the inner ear and degenerative changes of the structures of the inner ear as we age. Determining BPPV is usually completed with a history and physical exam. Additional testing can include MRI (if neurological problems are suspected) or rotary chair testing (for difficult to diagnose cases).

During the exam if the therapist or physician can reproduce symptoms with various testing movements and can see a jumping of the eyes (called nystagmus) that is associated with BPPV they will be able to treat the vertigo in the office and instruct in management at home.

The treatment of the Epley maneuver is performed by moving a client through 4 distinct positions to move the loose crystals through the ear canal to a point where they no longer will stimulate the symptom onset. Home exercises are usually given along with instructions to avoid extremes of head motions, sleeping in a reclined position and not sleeping on the involved side. This procedure is effective in about 80% of the population.

As always we hope the information is helpful in your daily pursuit of good health and improvements in mobility. If you would like more information you can call or contact us at RI Limb Prosthetics, Orthotics And Physical Therapy -- (401) 884-9541

Self Assessment Yoga Style

Thanks for checking out our second post on Posture in the month of May.  Last week we told you what "optimal posture" would look like.  Today's article incorporates some self mobility, assessment and awareness to work on correcting your posture by sensing were you are in space.  Let us know how it feels when you get your self "stacked up right" (or is it "upright"!!!)

Standing Postural Assessment 2:

You can also check your posture by bringing awareness to your body. Give it a try on your own, or come see Erin at our yoga classes Tuesday at 8 AM or Thursday at 7:30 PM.

Moving up, stack your knees directly over your ankles. Then hips over your knees. Check in!

  • Do you have equal weight on each leg? 
  • Are you able keep muscles relaxed along the front and back of your legs?

Now, bring your attention to your tailbone and pelvis. Your center of gravity is located here. Tip your pelvis forward and backward a few times. Then, settle so your tailbone is pointing down towards the floor directly between your feet and your belly is tightened slightly like you are zipping up a pair of pants.

Continue by moving your attention up your spine stacking each vertebrae on top of one another. Now, turn your attention to your rib cage, gently rock forward and back a few times to feel gravity pull you in each direction.

  • Settle in the middle so your rib cage is stacked over your hips and you feel like your rib cage is floating effortlessly over your abdomen.

Bring your attention to your shoulders. Shift your shoulder blades up and down, forward and back, then in circles. Settle with your palms facing forward, your shoulder blades gently pinching and your chest opening.

Now move your attention up your neck, one segment at a time until you get to the base of your head. Gently tuck your chin so the crown of your head is reaching towards the ceiling and the base of your head is gently resting on the top of your neck.

Imagine yourself being pulled from the crown of the head along that "plumb line"  that we discussed in the previous post.

  • Lengthen out your body, reversing the effects of gravity. Stand tall and feel what it is like to draw awareness to your posture.

As always we hope the information is helpful in your daily pursuit of good health and improvements in mobility.