Yoga Therapy Workshop: Preventing & Relieving Low Back Pain

For those of you in San Diego I will be hosting a Workshop in beautiful La Jolla at Prana Yoga Center. See below for details. Hope to see you there!

Yoga Therapy Workshop: Preventing & Relieving Low Back Pain

Saturday May 3, 1:00-3:00 PM
at Prana Yoga Center. Sign up at or call 858-456-2806

Yoga wall traction2Do you suffer from low back pain, or wish to prevent low back pain from taking hold? There are a variety of issues that can cause pain, in this workshop we will work on a few steps to address this common ailment.

 ◌ Explore how the hips, pelvic position and core stability can affect the lower back.
◌ Understand why some Asanas work for some people and not for others.
◌ Utilize the Yoga Wall to create improved space between the joints.
◌ Learn Asanas to maintain the mobility, stability and length found in class.
Fee: $35 by April 30, $45 after

You can e-mail me with any questions or like Berry Happy Bodies on FB to keep up to date on where and when I am teaching.

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What Happens After ACL Reconstructive Surgery?

ACL tears are a common injury among athletes. At most risk are female soccer players in their teenage years. Unfortunately, when an ACL tear occurs, most of the time surgery is required due to the inability for the ACL to heal itself. Rehab is long and necessary,  but there is a light at the end of the tunnel. In most cases, following the appropriate amount of time you can return to activities you were doing before, however patience is required.

lower leg

The ACL is a ligament helping to stabilize the knee, and most commonly is injured in knee twisting motions, or a forceful hyperextension of the knee joint.

After the injury occurs, a MD or Orthopedic Specialist will evaluate the knee and determine its stability. If the MD discovers the knee is lacking appropriate stability due to a tear, the the type of ACL graft has to be determined for the reconstructive surgery.  The patient will consult with the surgeon to determine if an Autograft (patient’s own hamstring or Patellar tendon) or Allograft (use of a cadevor) will be used. Then typically a surgery date is set, and until the surgery the patient should maintain as much range of motion and strength in the injured leg as possible, while not overdoing it at the same time.

Phase I (Day 1- Week 4)

Typically ACL reconstructive surgery is performed in an Outpatient facility, and an overnight hospital stay is not required. For the first few days following surgery, safe range of motion is most important. Sometimes a machine (CPM) is ordered to help slowly improve knee straightening and bending. During this time ambulation is in small amounts, and crutches are used the first few days. Typically this means short walks around the house. For example, to and from the bathroom and slowing building from there.  Physical Therapy starts during this time as well. A Physical Therapist will help improve range of motion, as well as isometric quadriceps and hamstring strength. The therapist will also encourage weight bearing on the injured leg, and begin to wean the patient from the crutches as appropriate.

Phase II (week 4-10)

During these weeks the range of motion and strength will continue to progress, as well as safe single leg balance and stability to begin work on proprioceptive training on the injured leg. The therapist will also work with the patient to establish normal gait. Safety is crucial during this time as range, gait and strength return to normal. As the patient begins to feel “normal” again, typically they return to more activities. It is important for the patient to be aware during this time that the ligament does not full integrate and heal until approx. 6- 8 weeks following surgery. The risk for tearing the new ligament is high during this time if a patient begins too many activities too early and does have the appropriate strength to protect this healing ligament.

Phase III (week 11-24)

Dynamic balance and stability is progressed in this phase. A physical therapist will concentrate on ensuring good single leg strength and stability, as well as continued proprioceptive training. Range of motion should be full at this time, and the patient should be returned to normal activities of daily living. The patient should have a thorough home exercise program involving balance, strength, and stretching for progression to independence from Physical Therapy.

Phase IV >6 months

runner's lungeDuring this time more sport specific training is incorporated to prepare the athlete for return to sport if appropriate. Strength and range of motion should be full, and a patient should feel confident in single leg dynamic motions. A brace will be used when the patient returns to sport to prevent future tears.

This is a typical guideline following ACL surgery. Sometimes modifications are needed and the healing time varies depending on the extent of injury and if there are other involved structures. In my experience, for best results it is important for the patient to be compliant with the home program without overdoing, as well as keeping good contact with the Surgeon and Therapist. I have had many patients return back to sports, but usually the hardest time mentally is in the third and beginning of the last phase when the strength is not quite ready for full participation and the patient still has to hold back. Patience is key during this time for a good outcome. If you have any questions as always just e-mail me:

1. Kisner, C. Colby, L. Therapeutic Exercise Foundations and Techniques. Davis Company, Philadelphia. 2007.
2. Levangie, P. Norkin, C. Joint Structure & Function A Comprehensive Analysis. Davis Company, Philadelphia. 2005.
3. Maxay, L. Magnusson J. Rehabilitation for the Postsurgical Orthopedic Patient. Mosby Elsevier, St. Louis. 2007.

What is Lumbar Stenosis?

Unfortunately in our society Low back pain, and its associated problems, are very common stated by the National Health Institute and several research articles published in the Physical Therapy Journal. If you look on NIH’s site, you will notice there are a variety of reasons as to why Low back pain occurs. One common diagnosis is Spinal Stenosis of the low back.

Broken down, the word Stenosis means narrowing. When applied to the spine, Stenosis means a decrease of space in the spine.

lumbar spineThis narrowing of the spine typically occurs over time due to anything deceasing the space between the vertebrae and spinal canal. Some examples include: disc herniation, vertebrae stiffening, ligament thickening, bone spurs, arthritis, postural changes,  muscle strength and length imbalances.

Pain is caused by the stiffening into this position, and occasional pinching or irritation of the nerves and discs or vertebrae.

What can you do if you have Stenosis? See a Physical Therapist where you can learn exercises, to lengthen and strengthen muscles as well as assist you in getting your vertebrae moving more freely again.

To prevent it is best to start performing a daily stretching program, especially if you sit frequently, lengthening your hip flexors to avoid an anterior tug on the pelvis and spine.

For further details, and more pictures, visit NIH for their article on Spinal Stenosis.


New Year Brings Changes

Hope all of you had a relaxing holiday. I enjoyed some down time with my husband and his family. The  mini break was appreciated since the first half of the year is going to be a busy one.

Berry Happy BodiesMany of you know Yoga has been a passion of mine for over a decade now. I am honored I now will have the opportunity to share my experiences and knowledge with others in a nwe way. Starting in mid January I will also be working at Embody Physical Therapy and Yoga. You can schedule an appointment with me for Physical Therapy,  Massage and soon Yoga. This clinic is very unique since we utilize Yoga and Physical Therapy techniques to help heal from pain. Please visit the website for more information on the unique and effective treatment techniques available at the clinic.

I am also starting a Yoga Teacher Training the beginning of this year, as well as additional Training’s with Rachel the owner of Embody combining Yoga and Physical Therapy for effective rehabilitation.

beach heart


I look forward to sharing new information and experiences in 2013, however posting might be at a slower pace depending on  time available. I will try my best to keep it consistent though.

Thank you for all the support, and Happy New Year!

Intro to body Tips!

So I’ve been thinking with all the great food blogs out there how do I find my niche? What can I bring to the table that’s different? Then I had a “duh!!” moment and decided- hey I can use my 8 plus years of education and over a decade of experience on the body!

So, now I’d like to formally introduce “Body Tips“.  Some days you will receive a refueling recipe for the nourishing the body, or  you will either receive a preventative wellness, or a general rehabilitation (rehab) tip for aches and pains. Other days like today you will get both! We will see how this goes. So if you have any feed back or suggestions please let me know.

I’m going to still through in the music bits here and there since this is just naturally ingrained into our lives.

Now onto the Body Tip and  a delicious healthy sweet snack for today.

Body Tips:

What’s Better- Yoga or Pilates??

I’ve been getting this question for years. It doesn’t matter if I’m a Personal Trainer, Massage Therapist or Physical Therapist, I’ve been asked in all scenarios. And I’ve been doing both for years. My answer- drum roll….

Neither. Or at times Both.

It depends on your body, and goals.


has been around for centuries, and even the Americanized versions are wonderful. There are many types: slow and rejuvenating, hot, or strengthening, and of course meditative. I can highlight the differences in future blogs. You should research a class before you hop in so you know what you are getting into. Yoga is perfect for you if you are “tight”. However word of caution, there are a lot of classes that do not provide individual instruction. So, if you are tight and it is uncomfortable to stretch a tight area, you will move through and unconsciously stretch areas of the body that do not need to stretch because you will naturally avoid pain. (Whoa, that’s mind boggling thought) So use mirrors, and really listen to the teacher’s instruction. And always follow the philosophy if it’s painful don’t do it.  I actually see a good number of people in pain at the physical therapy clinic from a yoga injury.

Downward dog- sorry couldn’t resist!


has many forms and versions as well. There are the mat classes, or classes using the reformer or one on one sessions using the reformer, Cadillac or chair. Pilates is wonderful for strengthening and stabilization of your joints. Good for loosey goosey people like me. The one downfall is to get really good instruction it usually comes at a high price. I guess you get what you pay for here. Some videos for mat pilates are great, some not so good. Either at home or in a class, just be careful not to overdo.

Then of course there is the hybrid combo of yoga and pilates, which I find awkward and forced at times. So what is your goal- to relax and unwind your mind and muscles, or lengthen while strengthening? Answering this question will help you decide- yoga or pilates for today? Yes, it’s not always I’m a yogi. Well I guess you are always a yogi, but this is a whole other conversation. Anyways, this is where you can follow the philosophy of living life in moderation. I am a student of both, switching it up week by week depending on what my body needs.  If you swing the pendulum too far to either side you can end up in trouble.

Ok, time to refuel!

Chick Bars

This bars are from chicks to chicks, and as a bonus males enjoy as well! These are super easy to whip up, and are a great post workout snack. They are naturally a perfect blend of carbs and protein. It is also a great sweet craving filler without the excess sugar and fat. You can substitute for days when you just want cookie dough and not feel guilty (plus no raw eggs!!). @#4% What? Hold the phone.

Yes, I admit when I first viewed the recipe on Chocolate Covered Katie my original thought was, yeah I bet that’s a good healthy snack but could never replace the cookie dough attacks. Whoa, was I pleasantly surprised. I liked it so much I couldn’t decide between just keeping it in it’s “dough” form, or baking. So I did both ;). This time I modified and went a sweet almond/cinnamon route because I wanted a low sugar snack, but next time I am going to try the chocolate chips. The amazing thing with this recipe is there is so much you can do with it the options are endless. You can add applesauce, bananas, peanut butter and peanut butter chips. It’s up to you and how calorie dense or healthy you want to make it.  PS still working on the pics….. It’s a large learning curve for me, apparently.

Chick Bars

2 Cans Garbanzo (chick peas) rinsed and drained

1 cup oatmeal

1/2 tsp baking soda

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 tbsp cinnamon

2 tsp almond extract

2 tbsp sugar free vanilla syrup

If it is too thick you can add in splash of almond milk.

If you want to make into bars set oven at 350. Then, throw everything in a food processor and start blending. Scrape out of the processor and put in a bowl and enjoy if you just want the dough. Or, place into a small 9×9 baking pan.  Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. If you decide to bake only half like I did cut the baking time down to 20-25.  Let cool for as long as you can keep your hands away ;). Enjoy after yoga or pilates!