If you haven’t caught the rest of the posts in this MTY Mindful Movement Series, read them here!
- Take Time for Self-Care with The Yoga Couch – https://gingergarner.com/yoga-couch/
- Stress(less): The Breath Practice You Can Do Anywhere – https://gingergarner.com/stressless-now-breath-practice-you-can-do-anywhere/
- Manage Stress & Trauma with The Sensory Diet – https://gingergarner.com/manage-stress-trauma-with-this-simple-daily-yoga-habit-the-sensory-diet/
Windshield Wipers is a very helpful therapeutic pose in the MTY method if you are a physical or occupational therapist, athletic trainer, or other movement expert; and if you are a yoga teacher or just love exercise and mindful movement in yoga, Windshield Wipers is a super helpful daily addition to your yoga practice across the lifespan. Let’s discuss the benefits of Windshield Wipers, and practice it together.
For anyone who loves to move:
Windshield Wipers can help you move more freely and pain-free, as well as treat you to a more relaxing, restorative yoga pose when you just don’t have the oomph to do standing or seated poses.
Windshield Wipers can address:
- Joint & GI Health
- Pelvic health
- Gastrointestinal/digestive health
- Muscle, Heart, & Lung Health
- Improve heart rate variability and decrease chronic disease and lifestyle-driven cancer risk
- Pace deep abdominal breathing with movement
- Coordinate lower extremity action with trunk/core stability
- Improve abdominal strength and coordination
- Stress & Pain Management & Overall Health Impact
- Be more mindful
- Slow down your movements and help determine what is causing pain
- Help improve and diminish pain perception
- Help you sleep better
- Decrease risk of neurodegenerative disease through mindfulness practice
- Soft Tissue
- Improve nerve gliding in the lower extremity
- Make soft tissue, including fascia and the muscles, more pliable and less reactive
- Improve soft tissue mobility and help you to move with greater ease and less ache
For healthcare providers and movement therapists:
Windshield Wipers can help you assess and evaluate healthy movement as well as stress and tissue response in the individual.
You can assess the following in Windshield Wipers pose:
- Joint “Optimal” Kinematics
- Unilateral hip range of motion in both hips – This is possible because I have the feet separated mat width’s distance apart. This also makes it possible to have someone with hip or back pain perform the pose because they don’t have to leave the weight of both legs at the same time. Use a goniometer or inclinometer to measure limitations in range of motion when documenting.
- Resting postural alignment – Can they rest without pain on The Yoga Couch? If not, this is a first indicator that you need to assess posture, transfers, and overall movement strategy, as well as resting joint alignment.
- Postural movement strategy – How do they get into and out of the pose? Are they cheating by using momentum, or by gripping the neck, face, or mouth? Do they let the opposite shoulder rise or tense it because they don’t have good body awareness or control?
- Hip and pelvic mobility – Do they have restrictions? Is the movement coming from the lumbar spine, strain on iliolumbar ligaments or iliolumbar area? Thoracic spine? Is there pain in the sacroiliac joint with attempted movement or at the end of the movement? Is there a lack of movement in the ilia when you compare one side to the other? Do the ischial tuberosities and ASIS (anterior superior iliac spine) move similarly side to side? (I see LOTS of this problem when someone has hip or sacroiliac joint pain).
- Motor Pattern (how well do they move and can they recruit the right muscles and movements to do so)
- Postural control strategy – Can they control the amount of movement they have doing this yoga posture?
- Breath – Do they use healthy breathing techniques to move? Do they breath hold? Do they use any of the four abnormal breath patterns to “help” complete the movement?
- Proper core integration – Does the abdomen bulge if you ask them to use the Power Breath (TATD Breath) to properly integrate the pelvic floor and deep back and trunk musculature with the respiratory and thoracic/laryngeal diaphragms? It should not bulge like a loaf of bread. I call that “Rectus Loafing” in my book.
- Response to Imposed Stressors
- How well can the person respond to your invitation to do Windshield Wipers?
- Are they visibly stressed?
- Are there skin changes (flushing red or looking irritated)?
- Are you able to use light touch to guide their movement or are they uncomfortable with touch?
- Can they follow directions or do they experience frustration or perhaps struggle with your instructions?
- Do you need to adapt the pose and have them do it seated from the floor?
- TESMI (Tissue Extensibility and Sensorimotor Integration)
- How well do the fascial planes interact and move?
- Do they experience tugging and pulling or tension or compression in areas close to and/or far away from the actual body parts involved in the movement?
- Do they experience trigger or tender points or referred pain when they move related to the soft tissue?
- Do the props being used (yoga mat, blankets) hinder or help movement?
- If they need to adapt the movement, you can do this pose in seated, which offers unique insight into joint and muscle function. The seated version should be pain free, but if it causes groin pain, there could be Hip Impingement. There could also be visceral adhesions or other abdominal scars, thoracolumbar or sacroiliac joint impairment, false hip impingement, myofascial restriction, or pelvic pain.
- Do they have any nerve pain that travels past the knee? Compression of the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve distribution is possible, which can be caused by soft tissue or even wearing yoga pants that are too tight! Also, if the obturator nerve is struggling, the person could have medial knee pain, or referred pain down the inside of the leg to the knee.
There are two ways to practice Windshield Wipers in the MTY Method.
You can practice Windshield Wipers TWO WAYS:
- Without TATD Breath
- With TATD Breath
I recommend starting to practice without TATD breath first, and then progress to Windshield Wipers with TATD breath. Enjoy your mindful MTY movement!
Source: Garner, G. (2016) Medical Therapeutic Yoga: Biopsychosocial Rehabilitation & Wellness Care. Handspring Publishing Ltd. Edinburgh, UK.
About the Author
Ginger has spent 20+ years helping people (mostly moms!) with chronic pain as a physical therapist, athletic trainer, and professional yoga therapist. Ginger is the author of Medical Therapeutic Yoga, now in its 4th foreign translation, founder of ProYogaTherapy Institute, codirector of Living Well Yoga in Healthcare, and most recently ran for State Senate in NC.
This and all blog posts related to yoga and/or physical therapy on www.gingergarner.com are not a substitute for medical advice and are not a prescription or program for individualized physical therapy. You must seek the advice of your health care provider and, only after a thorough physical examination and clearance, participate in any movement or exercise program.