Child's Pose as an Assessment | Modern Manual Therapy Blog

Child's Pose as an Assessment


There are 2 problems that I have with a traditional upper quarter screen:
      1.  It takes extra time to look at each individual joint and muscle
      2.  It doesn't show me how each joint and muscle group work in conjunction with the rest of the 
           body during functional movements.

Instead of using a traditional upper quarter screen, I now use a series of yoga postures to perform my clinical assessment. Typically the first pose I have my patients do is child’s pose.

Here's a list of objective finding you can gather from placing a patient in child's pose: 
  • Shoulder, hip, and knee flexion ROM
  • Ankle plantarflexion ROM
  • Glenohumeral and scapulo-thoracic compensatory patterns (elevated shoulders, scapular movement and position)
  • Flexion-based spinal abnormalities (i.e. scoliosis, palpate vertebrae) and easily palpate tone of paraspinals and quadratus lumborum
  • Pelvic landmark position in flexion bias (PSIS, inferior tuberosities, etc.)
  • Sacroiliac joint landmark position in flexion bias
  • Rib response during breathing

Whenever I assess a patient in a yoga posture, I always ask for their feedback on what parts of their body feel uncomfortable. This gives me further insight into asymmetries and the patient’s perception of pain or discomfort.

For example, a patient comes into the clinic complaining of neck and upper back pain.  We can use child’s pose to make several assessments:


Figure 1:
  • Ischial tuberosities are not level
  • Global trunk rotation to the right
  • Patient appears to be leaning away from the right hip (possible loss of ROM?)
Figure 2:
  • The patient’s avoidance of full ROM of the R hip is more obvious
  • Appears to be a loss of shoulder flexion ROM
Figure 3:
  • Definite loss of shoulder flexion ROM
  • Forward head posture
  • Excessive kyphosis in mid-lower thoracic spine
From a single pose I know I want to look further into the following findings: 
  • Reason for loss of shoulder overhead motion
  • Thoracic spine mobility
  • R hip mobility
  • Pelvic alignment

By simply putting the patient in child’s pose, I am able to collect these objective findings in a matter of seconds. If I had performed an upper quarter screen, it would have taken much more time to zero in on these findings, and I may have missed the asymmetries present at the hip and pelvis.  Now I have an idea of why the patient’s neck and thoracic spine is irritated. These areas are trying to help the body compensate for lack of motion elsewhere.

Thanks for reading!

Header Image Credit
Reference: Garner, G. 2001. Professional Yoga Therapy, Volume I. Professional Yoga Therapy Institute, Living Well, US.

About the author:
Christine Walker is a Physical Therapist and Professional Yoga Therapist (candidate) through the Professional Yoga Therapy Institute. She has her own cash-based PT practice in Charlotte, NC. To learn more visit her website or connect with her on Twitter.



Interested in live cases where I apply this approach and integrate it with pain science, manual therapy, repeated motions, IASTM, with emphasis on patient education? Check out Modern Manual Therapy!

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