Stretching the Spines and Minds of Youth Athletes

I am very excited and proud to be presenting "The Missing Link: Yoga as a Rehabilitative Tool for Youth Athletes" on October 19th at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia' Sports Medicine Conference.  


This talk will focus on yoga as a self regulation practice to manage the stress response in youth athletes.  The goal of the talk is to teach yoga through the biopsychosocial model and give these practitioners yoga tools to bring back to their clients to facilitate improved breathing, mindful alignment and mindful movement practices.  I incorporated the research from several sources  into the talk to demonstrate the concept of "flipping the triangle".  “Flipping the Triangle” refers to the TPM strategy for cueing body awareness first, when guiding movement. This helps the athlete to decipher where they are moving from and what is driving their movement pattern.  Does this pattern serve them for the task at hand?

While doing my background research for the talk, I found this 2016 article out of New Zealand,  in the Journal, Sports Medicine, titled “Stretching the Spines of Gymnasts”. The authors attempt to answer this question: Does practicing a backbend and other hyperextension exercises harm young gymnasts?  This article outlines that spinal stretching in gymnasts starts at a very young and can be an important contributor to spinal abnormalities from repetitive stress leading to injury and pain. Physiyoga has a place in working with these young athletes to improve their interoceptive awareness, change habits and restore more efficient movement patterns for the longevity of their lives.   It depends where the gymnast is extending from, what is driving their movement, where is their breath? The tools of Physiyoga can drive the lasting change necessary for young athletic health, efficiency and safety.

Deborah Livingston, PT, DPT is a Senior Teacher for Threes Physiyoga Method®