If your back hurts, the last thing you want to do is exercise. But there is one type of training that can do wonders: yoga for back pain. It has enormous benefits when it comes to strengthening the back muscles and stretching knots and tension that cause pain. There are ways to practice and adjust poses to ensure that people with injuries or impediments can still experience yoga that supports a healthy spine.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported this year that 40 million American workers – that’s 26% of working Americans – suffer from low back pain. Those in industries that demand greater back strain (standing for long periods, carrying or moving loads) and workers aged 45 to 64 report pain with a much greater frequency.
Read more: How to do yoga at home
This means that it is very likely that your yoga classmates have or will experience back pain. The good news is that yoga can prevent back pain and relieve existing back pain. Moreover, it can give you the mental and physical tools to deal with it if and when back pain or other injuries occur.
Back pain is different for every person who experiences it, so just because Jane has the wrong pillow or Denise has weak abdominal muscles doesn’t mean that these are the sources of your back pain. The first thing you should do if your back pain persists or if it prevents you from performing daily tasks, such as walking, carrying, working, or leisure, is to go to your doctor. This ensures that they can give you everything you need to start a gym routine and a yoga practice with warnings about what to avoid or what to concentrate on for optimal strength and health.
Usually, yoga classes in gyms include yoga flows (or vinyasa), Yin, or Hatha classes. Hatha and vinyasa classes are more physically active and challenging, usually go from one pose to the next, sometimes holding balances and strong standing positions for longer periods or moving through a powerful series of poses. The flow and Hatha classes require the body to rotate, lengthen, and flex the spine and stretch the hips, hamstrings, and abdominal muscles.
All these actions are great for the health and mobility of your spine.
Your teacher will guide you in practicing yoga for back pain with an awareness of how to breathe and the muscles that make you move safely. In Yin yoga, postures are held much longer – somewhere between one and six minutes – to increase stretch and reduce muscle tension.
The key to improving most back pain is to strengthen where you need it most (usually the abdominals, buttocks, and thighs), while stretching out and releasing excessive tension where it causes pain (usually the hips, shoulders, and hamstrings). Fortunately, yoga is ideally designed to do all of these things.
Make sure you tell your teacher that you’ve had back pain and if you know why to let him know. Ask if there are any poses or actions you should avoid and what your alternative options are so that you’re not in the middle of the class and feel like you don’t know what to do.
Your teacher wants you to be safe and feel completely welcome and part of the class, so he will be happy to give advice. If you can come early and talk to them 5 minutes before class starts, this will give you plenty of time to go through what you need to know.
These yoga postures to relieve back pain will do wonders to alleviate pain:
Cat-Cow – yoga for back pain
The balance on your hands and knees while alternately tilting the head and pelvis so that the back descends. Then stop the pelvis, pull your chin to your chest and around your back to the roof and arch. This moves the back through flexion and extension.
Child position – yoga for back pain
This is a safe, gentle way to flex the spine as well. Simply let the torso rest over the kneeling legs with the head on a pillow or mat. This is a forward folding posture designed to create comfort and a sense of calm.
Cobra – yoga for back pain
A softly supported back extension, cobra stretches the abdominal muscles and creates stretch through the upper and middle back and also through the shoulders. A stronger back is more resistant to pain and soreness because the muscles function optimally. Lie on your belly with your legs at a hip distance from each other, put your elbows back at your waist and hands flat at your ribs, slowly lift the chest and breathe in while pressing the pelvis into the mat for support.
Twists and turns
Twists are great for improving your range of motion and relieving tension in the middle and lower back, but be careful to move slowly and always stop if you feel sharp or strong pain. Lie on your back, lift your feet off the mat until your knees are over your hips so that you have a 90-degree angle on your hips and knees. With your arms outstretched towards your body, move your knees to the side and drop them to the ground if you can (otherwise you’ll float them as far as you can) while trying to pull the opposite shoulder to the mat. Hold and breathe, let gravity help to deepen the piece backward without force. Then change sides.
A strong pelvic floor, abdominal muscles, and buttock muscles do wonders for supporting a healthy back, preventing, and relieving pain. By holding the platform position, whether, on your knees or toes and the high to low push-up of chaturanga, the abdominal and leg strength will increase during the continuous exercise.
Make sure you work at your own pace. If you still can’t keep your head-high heels in a straight line, put the plank on your knees. As important as it is to build strength, it is just as important to be patient as you build strength and skill.
Doing yoga at home regularly: Doing yoga very helpful for supporting a healthy back, preventing, and relieving pain.
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