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Managing Spasticity without Pills or Injections- Part 1

The American Stroke Association states : ".After a stroke, muscles may become stiff, tighten up and resist stretching. This is called spasticity.

Spasticity relates to muscle tone. Tone is the natural tension, or contraction, in a muscle that resists stretching. " So, "tone" is normal. We all have some degree of muscle tone. Spasticity is abnormal muscle tone. And, at this time, the medical community does not know exactly what causes spasticity.

So, the way I was taught to think of spasticity has been very valuable to me in helping people make a change in that stiffness. If there are body parts that are tight or over- active, I consider those areas as being "over recruited". The brain is just sending way too many signals to particular muscles/body areas and over recruiting. So, that may also mean that the brain is sending signals to the other areas, but they are very few or "quite" signals. And, what we see is the area that is over recruiting as having spasticity.

So to manage spasticity, working on changing those signals is part of the solution. One way to do this is with Yoga. Yoga has become more popular and finding a Yoga class that you can participate in has become easier. Yoga is a great, non medical way to address your spasticity. With a focus on breathing and calming your nervous system, people can learn ways to reduce spasticity for themselves. Breathing in a particular way can improve the activity of your parasympathetic nervous system (the “rest and refresh” part of your nervous system). And this can result in reduced tightness. Moving through yoga poses allows you to move your body in ways that you may not have an opportunity to during your daily life. These things can help your body, and mind, be more loose. And, this can reduce your spasticity symptoms

Yoga is considered a “practice”. It is something that you participate in and focus on improving your ability to participate. So, you can always feel good about jumping in and giving it a try. You may feel that Yoga is “not for you”, but there are options out there for short/mini classes. That way you can get a “taste” and see what it is like.

While, Yoga may not completely abolish your spasticity symptoms, it is something that you can have control of and begin to utilize in moments when your tightness is increasing. This allows you to rely on yourself, not pills or injections, to have an impact on your nervous system.

If you are interested in trying Yoga classes specifically for Stroke Survivors with one side affected by Stroke, keep an eye out for the launch of Thrive Stroke Online Fitness and Wellness. This online platform will have live and recorded Yoga Classes designed by Physical Therapists specifically for Stroke Survivors with one side affected by Stroke. It will also offer, fitness classes, Stroke Specific exercise series to address typical impairments Stroke Survivors experience, and educational offerings to get our members access to specialists for all manner of issues that Stroke Survivors have. We will be launching in May-Stroke Awareness Month- so keep an eye out. If you have any questions feel free to reach out.

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