You feel the deep ache as soon as you wake up. You might stretch your arms above your head, twist your body this way and that, but you still feel the dull throb. Lower back pain affects millions of Americans daily. And it always seems that your lower back pain always flairs up when you have a full day of plans. You cannot stay in bed, so what should you do?
What you should do is practice yoga for your lower back pain. Many around the world incorporate yoga into their daily routines, both as a preventive measure and as their go-to method to alleviate lower back pain. But what is yoga?
Yoga is a physical discipline that encourages spiritual reflection and the conjunction of mind and body to produce harmonious living. The practice of yoga originates in the East (India) with historical evidence that early man may have participated in a similar physical activity. Today, yoga can be understood as a type of exercise, with carefully coordinated positions to improve your health and mental state.
The different yoga sequences that your body would move through targets specific regions of your body to release tension and alleviate pain. While these stretches bring physical relief, they also bring focus to different aspects of your emotional health. These yoga sequences also help the practitioner become more flexible, adding length and strength to your body’s tendons and muscles.
Yoga was first introduced into the United States as early as the 19th century, but really started shifting into the mainstream American culture in the 1950’s. By the 1960’s yoga becomes popularized amongst the ‘counter-culture’ and eventually begins being identified as a health-conscious activity within the 1980’s and 1990’s. Today, you can find yoga studios all through small towns and big cities, with almost every culture and social group participating.
Yoga has taken a firm root in society’s mainstream exercise and health culture. It allows the practitioner to get into peak physical shape while encouraging balance between your mind and body. Everyone can participate in yoga, and they do. Hold over hippies, office executives, construction workers, and athletes all enjoy doing yoga because of the many benefits it produces.
Most people turn to yoga to begin treating some physical ailment they are experiencing; most commonly lower back pain. When individuals begin experiencing relief from their lower back pain symptoms, they usually decided to continue with their yoga stretches as a preemptive measure. Maintaining their flexibility and stretching regimen, they can prevent lower back pain from worsening or returning.
Yoga Stretches For Lower Back Pain
Whether physically strained from poor posture at work or injury, yoga can help you alleviate your pain symptoms. Your lower back (also known as the lumbar region of your spine) is composed of muscles, nerves, facet joints, discs, and vertebrae. The muscles in your lower back support the majority of your upper body and can carry the burden of movement.
When your lumbar region becomes irritated and inflamed, pain signals are sent through the body, making standing, walking, and even sitting uncomfortable. Regular yoga practice can help reduce these symptoms and encourage the body’s inherent healing systems to treat damaged muscles.
Incorporating yoga into daily life can allow people who suffer from lower back pain to thrive. With less pain, they can become more flexible physically and can begin enjoying the benefits of a mind/body balance.
When you first begin practicing yoga for your lower back pain, it is important to remember to start slowly and not forcefully contort your body into positions that you are not able to do. Even if part of your yoga goals is to achieve a difficult position you must first strengthen your core muscles.
These yoga stretches are perfect for beginners (and seasoned yoga practitioners) and can greatly help with reducing and managing lower back pain:
Child’s Pose: A gentle stretch where you fold your body forward. You sit back on your heels, knees bent, and bend forward with your hands placed on the floor in front of you. Your arms remain extended in front of you, and you rest your forehead gently on the floor. And then you just stay there. Keep this position for a few minutes and return to your original position. The stretch is felt in your hamstrings and your spine. This deceptively simple stretch accomplishes more than you realize. The practitioner can release the tension from their neck and back, while lengthening the spine. It also loosens your hip flexors adding for more flexibility.
Sphinx Pose: First, lay your face flat on the ground, and place your palms facedown, and lift your upper torso and head. This simple stretch will gently pull the tendons and muscles in an easy way, lengthening and strengthening your spine, chest, and shoulders.
Bridge Pose: An excellent pose to follow the sphinx pose, this stretch helps relieve pressure on your spine and stimulate the surrounding nerves. With your feet firmly flat on the floor, lay flat on your back and your arms rested at your side. With your feet still placed on the ground, lift your hips up. Once lifted, your thighs should be parallel to the floor. Hold your hips up and return them slowly to the ground.
While it would be amazing to contour your body like a pretzel, it is important to not push your physical limits. The goal is to gradually increase your ability with consistent practice. Done regularly, these simple yoga stretches can help release tension from the spinal region and alleviate strain from the muscles of your lower back. Performing different yoga stretches or sequences regularly will help your lower back pain subside.
Being physically active is incredibly important for your health. Your blood circulates better, you improve lung function, and your body will better release harmful toxins (that may have built up) out of your body. There are so many benefits to yoga, and unfortunately, when people have difficulty exercising, they are shamed into believing it is completely their fault.
Sometimes, the chronic pain in your lower back can impede your ability to participate in regular exercise and yoga stretching. But context is important.
Millions of Americans suffer from varying degrees of lower back pain. The pain cycle follows as: first you feel the pain, then your muscles tense, you become stiff and become inactive. This inactivity inevitably weakens your body. Your functionality decreases, and then your ability for physical activity becomes limited. Your body and mind both become stressed and begin to feel the burden of your symptoms. Yoga can help lift this burden and harmonize the physical and emotional functions of your body.
Knowing which methods of stretching will improve your lower back pain is important for your day-to-day life. Knowing the limits of your body and which yoga pose (or sequence) is most beneficial to you will be dictated by the type of lower back pain you experience. Yoga has demonstrated notable benefits for people with chronic pain and autoimmune disorders as well.
Yoga can reduce depression, increase your energy, and improve your range of joint movement. A physically low impact exercise, yoga improves your flexibility, strengthens your core muscles, and encourages emotional harmony. It may even help you lose weight!
Something to bear in mind; if traditional yoga triggers a pain flare up, another option would be micro-yoga. Micro-yoga is simply yoga that does not mimic the traditional length of the exercises or an established pattern. Simply, swap out an hour of stretches to five minutes of stretches. By taking five minutes of your day to perform the asana (stretch sequence) you can improve the pain symptoms you are experiencing. You are also not limited to following the traditional asana movements, and pick the specific stretches you find beneficial.
For example, let’s say your hips feel tight and tense when walking. Taking a few minutes to do a “pigeon stretch” will help relieve some of that tension. And even more simple measures like practicing yoga as part of your “wind down” from regular exercise activity can help protect your muscles from damage.
For some, their chronic lower back pain makes it too difficult to participate in lengthy yoga stretches initially. But by breaking it down into smaller increments of time with micro-yoga, the small bursts of active stretching may prove helpful for achieving the stamina for longer yoga sessions.
Lower back pain can be more than inconvenient. It can be miserable. If you have tried home remedies like yoga and still cannot find relief, call Pain and Spine Specialists and have our team of highly qualified specialists evaluate your symptoms. We can assist you in determining what the best course of treatment will be to better improve your functionality. Call (301) 703-8767 (Maryland), (724) 603-3560 (Pennsylvania), or (540) 433-1905 (Virginia) and schedule an appointment today.