Utilizing Yoga To Help With Back Pain?
Yoga is more than just a remedy for superb comfort. It’s regular practice can help not just relax the body, but also place emphasis on clearing and calming the mind. However, as the practice is being more accepted and utilized, many individuals swear by using it as a way to alleviate pain, stiffness, and/or sore muscles. So, can you use yoga to help with back pain, or other chronic issues.
Firstly, let’s get one thing off our chest. Yoga and other mindfulness based practices should not take the place of any current treatment prescribed. However, we will embark upon a journey to present some of the facts that surround the use of yoga for pain; such as chronic back pain.
Yoga To Help With Back Pain: Some Interesting Information/Research
Surely, yoga is a practice utilized for many years to help with flexibility, improving balance, mind/body awareness, but also strength. One of the biggest advantages may just be it’s accessibility. It can literally be done anywhere, with no equipment, if need be.
It’s no secret, adults (and individuals of all ages), a common source of discomfort and pain comes from the back. In fact, back pain becomes more common starting in your 30’s and is often due to a lack of exercise. Furthermore, this lack of exercise leads to weak, unused muscles in the “core” of your body.
A common recommendation for back pain sufferers is figuring out why it’s occurring, then attempting to correct that underlying cause.
- A weak core?
- Excess body weight?
- Improper lifting techniques?
- Other disease processes, as well as a host of other things that can lead to back pain or injury?
This certainly effects day to day function, right?! Luckily, exercise (specifically speaking about yoga in this post) has the ability to help aide in both strength and stretch, of the core.
The lower and upper back are sensitive and cumbersome spots for many people. Back pain can also be due to poor posture.
For roughly 20% of lower back pain sufferers, chronic low back pain lasts for more then one year. That’s a fairly high number, considering the amount that suffer from back pain, in general.
Certain studies have indicated that mild to moderate low back pain sufferers can improve with yoga postures, Specifically, that a “carefully adapted set of yoga postures may reduce pain and improve the ability to walk and move“.
An article posted on Harvard Health discusses that yoga helps stretch and strengthen back muscles such as; the paraspinal muscles, multifidus muscles, and the transverse abdominis. These are muscles that do one or more of the following:
- Helping with bending of the spine
- stabilizing vertebrae
- or helping to stabilize the spine
A meta analysis investigated yoga compared to non-exercise or physical therapy on things such as pain, disability and quality of life for patients with chronic lower back pain. Although the evidence was found to be low to moderate. Yoga did show some promise for decreasing pain, and improving functional disability status, compared to non-exercise.
A study published in 2017, found that a yoga class designed specifically for lower back pain can be a safe and effective alternative to physical therapy for pain relief.
5 Yoga Poses For Back Pain, To Get You Started:
This popular forward bend can be exhilarating and rejuvenating. Although some may argue it works other muscles slightly more then then spine (deltoids, triceps, hamstrings, calves), the back plays a major role in the pose as well. Like many yoga poses, the core (lower back/abs) are responsible for helping stabilize the body.
Particular emphasis and focus should be placed on keeping the spine’s length, and getting that all important stretch.
Inspired by the famous Greek mythical statue, the Sphinx involves a slight back-bend. In fact, it’s been called “the infant of back bends“. A great beginner friendly pose, perfect as a preparatory pose or rest pose. It offers a great stretch for your chest, shoulders and core. It also helps strengthen the all important, spine.
The first step is to lie on your stomach, then extend your legs behind you, then arch your back by pressing into the ground with your forearms.
During the Sphinx pose, your gluteal muscles, trapezius, erector spinae, latissimus dorsi, and pectoralis major are all activated.
The Reclined Pigeon
The Reclined pigeon pose, commonly known as the figure-four, places emphasis on opening the hips, providing release in the hamstrings and lower back. It’s been touted to also help relieve conditions such as sciatic.
Additionally, the reclined pigeon helps stretch your glutes, and inner thighs. As you sink deeper in this pose, using your grip, continue to slowly pull your legs toward your upper body/core to feel more stretch.
This position is moderate in difficulty. Lie on your back, cross your feet, and pull your right leg to your chest. Once you reach a comfortable stretch, hold the position for 30 seconds, or more. Next, switch and give the other side a try.
There is no doubt at some point you will practice Cat Pose. One of the main benefits of the sequence Cat-Cow is that it’s a great warm-up asana, particularly for your spine.
Not only is this a pose easy to incorporate into every yoga routine, it’s simple to carry out. The cat pose is an accessible and soothing back-bend, that mobilizes and stretches the spine. Not only does it benefit your upper back and shoulders, but may also help focus attention on improving posture.
Moreover, it works your triceps, gluteus maximus, erector spinae, serratus anterior, and rectus abdomen.
Now, the Eagle pose is for those who desire flexibility, endurance, balance and concentration, all in one pose. A more dynamic type asana, with emphasis on mental focus and clarity.
Important note: If you do suffer from any sort of knee injury, you should proceed with caution. A lower body injury could be accentuated because of the torque of the lower limbs in this pose.
Believe it or not, The Eagle is truly a full body activator, even for the back. However, you may struggle to find balance at the start. For us, the benefit of this pose is in longevity. The longer able to hold this pose, potentially the more desired stretch you can achieve.
Undoubtedly, (for us anyways) yoga is one of the best practices you can perform to help bring relief to nagging aches and pains.
Yoga is beautiful in it’s ability to help clear the mind, and soothe the body through the execution of the different asanas and movements.
Use the poses above as a starting point. Modify them as needed to meet your needs. Hopefully these will be a starting point for adopting a healthier lifestyle.
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