How do I make child’s pose comfortable (and safer) for hip or shoulder pinching or impingement?
First, let me lay out a few helpful hints first.
- If you are a teacher or therapist and want to learn how to use child’s pose diagnostically and therapeutically, please read Chapter 9, pages 255-259 in my textbook, Medical Therapeutic Yoga (MTY). There are plenty of details to get you going. I also teach these details in training courses for healthcare providers.
- There are other Child’s Pose Variations that are MTY based, which I will be covering in the future. These variations include two poses I call “Lateral Child’s Pose” and “Reach, Roll, Rise Pose.” These have amazing utility in tackling problems with the respiratory diaphragm, ribcage, ribs, intercostals (muscles in between), abdominals and any surgical scars around the trunk or pelvis, and shoulder/scapular strength and proprioception (knowledge of where you are in space).
- The “Secret Sauce” benefit of all the types of Child’s Pose I teach really focuses less on biomechanics, and more on the energetic and psycho-emotional-social benefits. That “Secret Sauce” is related to their ability to create “Safe Space,” and improve vagal tone, making the way this pose is practiced trauma-informed.
- Finally, this pose is also part of a trifecta (3 pose combo) I call “Sensory Diet 2.” I will explain this fully in upcoming weeks, but you may want to read the Sensory Diet 1 post first to understand the neuroscience and therapeutic effects of it.
Do in Child’s Pose
✅”Fish Gill” breathe – this means laterally expanding the rib cage on inhalation, to create length and pliability of the intercostals, which tend to stiffen and shorten with age. These are the muscles that hurt when you cough, if you’ve had an injury or accident. Practice below.
✅Use this pose (coupled with AD breath with the “Fish Gill” focus) to nurture myofascial release in the superficial back, arm, posterior functional and deep front lines. If you aren’t familiar with Tom Myers’s Myofascial Lines, learn about them here.
✅Use a thinly rolled blanket under the ankles to avoid foot drop
✅Go wider with the knees to avoid hip impingement and create more breathing space
✅Use the MTY Yoga Couch to avoid hip impingement and knee joint compression. Learn how to fold it below. You’ll use this in a face down (prone) position, not the face up (supine) position taught here.
A Few More Do’s in Child’s Pose
✅Do adapt the pose to fit your pelvic girdle needs. This means toes can be apart or together in the pose, depending on what fits your pelvis. The pose should be comfortable and should never cause strain, pinching, or pain. A PT trained in MTY can help you find the best therapeutic position for Child’s Pose. Find an MTY-Trained therapist or doctor.
✅Do place the hands under the forehead or use a blanket under the edge of the forehead to prevent neck strain or injury. This is particularly important if you’ve had or have current neck pain, headaches, eye strain, or if you have ever had any numbness, tingling, or changes in sensation in the hands.
✅This pose can be combined with manual therapy techniques to increase its therapeutic effect. I teach PT’s and similar providers how to layer these techniques for increased efficacy of the pose in the Medical Therapeutic Yoga Certification course (Level III). Learn how to use yoga safely as an individual or healthcare provider here.
Do not in Child’s Pose
❎ Do not wrap your arms by your sides for this particular therapeutic approach.
❎Do not straighten the arms out in front of you. Use a scaption angle
❎Do not force your head to drop down to the floor. Use a rolled blanket under the forehead to prevent cervical shear.
❎Do not do this pose if you have osteoporosis. Please see your PT to adapt the pose to your needs FIRST. Read my article I wrote with Dr. Lava Garner on yoga and osteoporosis.
❎Do not try to hold the abdominals in or use this pose as a strength builder, because you’ll most likely end up gripping the psoas or other hip flexors and muscles in the shoulders and trunk which can increase feelings of impingement or pinching in the joints.
Practicing a Safer, More Effective Child’s Pose
Okay! Now you are ready to do Child’s Pose! The beginning of the video is a tad long, but it does give you a chance to dip into a state of mindfulness, and to also prepare your mat, blankets, and blocks for the pose.
IMPORTANT: Please fold 2 blankets into a Yoga Couch as in the video above in order to make this pose the MOST comfy and therapeutic.
One more tip!
If you have limited hip and knee range of motion, no problem! You can practice what’s called a “High Child’s Pose.” Think of sticking your rear in the air and resting the chest over the Yoga Couch or a therapy ball. Child’s Pose, when adapted properly, can be modified to fit anyone’s needs!
The Child’s Pose Video is a SNEAK PEEK from the Premium MTY Video Library. If you’d like to have exclusive, lifetime access to all MTY Videos in one location, click here.
About the Author
Ginger is a passionate, unapologetic advocate of improving access to healthcare, a mother to 3 sons, & a 20+ year veteran in Integrative & Lifestyle Medicine in women’s health physical therapy & athletic training. She is the author of Medical Therapeutic Yoga, founder of Living Well Institute, owner of EudeMOMIa Integrative PT & Lifestyle Medicine, and most recently uprooted to Greensboro, NC with her family after 21 years of beach living, where they and their rescue pup Scout are wildly joyous about their new hometown.
PS Here are 3 more ways I can help you!
2. Take courses with me at Living Well Institute and Yoga U Online!
3. Take advantage of the Free Medical Therapeutic Yoga Basic Video Library.
DISCLAIMER: YOU CAN DO ANY YOGA POSE however you feel is best for you. However, these poses are for protection and preservation, as well as maximizing, pelvic girdle function (hip, SIJ, low back, pelvic floor). This and any other videos I instruct do not constitute physical therapy or a patient-provider relationship. User assumes risk in performing this or any video. Please get the approval of your healthcare provider before doing this or any instructional movement video.
A final note: Assessment and evaluation of the hip & shoulder should only be done by a licensed healthcare provider. A physical therapist or orthopaedist would be most suited. Remember, an orthopaedist is trained in surgery and drug prescription. A PT is trained to evaluate, rehabilitate, and prevent injury.