The Growing Epidemic of Back Pain
At some point in your life, if not already, you will most likely suffer from low back pain. If you have, or currently do suffer, from back pain you know how painful and at times even debilitating it is. According to Mayo Clinic, “Back pain is one of the most common reasons people go to the doctor or miss work, and is the leading cause of disability worldwide.” Many factors contribute to this growing problem including sedentary lifestyles, poor core strength, tight hips & shoulders, and obesity. Back pain is most commonly treated with opioids, which as you know, are very addictive and can then lead to the addiction of other drugs such as heroine when the prescription runs out.
We can prevent back pain, in many cases, by increasing low impact exercises, building core strength, increasing flexibility, maintaining a healthy diet and controlling our weight, and avoiding smoking.
Causes of Low Back Pain
In some cases you should consult a doctor. Low back pain could be muscular strain, degenerative or slipped disc, compressed nerves, or sometimes is even a sign of internal organ problems such as a kidney infection. Doctors will often order an x-ray or MRI to check for signs of a more serious issue. However, if it is muscular strain there are quite a few simple yoga stretches that can offer great relief without turning to prescription drugs. Our body is designed to heal itself, we just need to help it along at times.
Everything I offer you in my blogs is based on personal experience. Lately I have been having pretty consistent back pain that comes and goes based on my activity level. One day, several months ago, it hurt so bad that Chris had to literally lift me out of bed. He took me to the hospital and we both had hoped for x-rays to find out what was causing the pain. No avail, the doctor was certain my pain was muscular because she could press on my spine and I felt relief rather than increased pain. She suggested yoga which I chuckled about since I practice daily. I asked if I should avoid any postures like twisting and she said no. I then started going for regular massage therapy. Turns out the massage therapist helped me more than the doctor, shocker right?! She said in so many words I have a tight ass lol. But, in all seriousness it made total sense. My piriformis muscle in my glutes were extremely tight. I knew right away what stretches I needed, I just would not have known that my low back pain was caused by my buttocks muscles. So, I hope that if you are experiencing back pain these postures and stretches will help!
Simple Yoga Postures & Stretches to Relieve Back Pain
TADASANA, OR MOUNTAIN POSE:
Practice equal standing (with big toes together and heels slightly apart or you can have feet hip width apart), distributing the weight evenly between both feet as well as evenly through all four corners of each foot.
place your hands tohether at heart center OR turn your palms forward drawing the finger tips toward the earth
Root down and grow the crown of your head high toward the sky, engaging your uddiyana bandha (pull in core) and drawing up the moola bandha ( similar to a keegle exercise)
The beauty of this pose is that it can be practiced anywhere at anytime. Try it in line for the grocery or really any time you are standing. The benefits of this pose include increased awareness, improved posture, iproves arches in feet, and increases stability.
ADHO MUKHA SVANASANA, OR DOWNWARD FACING DOG:
From plank position lift your hips up and back working to get the heels toward the floor
spread fingers wide and press into all ten fingers, pads, and palms
engage your core, relieving the spine, and preventing you from caving through your chest, creating an inverted V. Relax your neck and take 3-5 breaths.
As you strengthen core muscles you are also improving flexibility through the hips and shoulders. This posture truly works the entire body. If you practice Ashtanga Yoga you know that most down dogs are followed by upward dogs which move the spine in the opposite direction. Normally keeping this balance is good, however upward facing dog is hard on people with low back pain, soI recommend doing a pushup and skipping up dog. Also important to note this stretch can be modified and preformed my placing your hands shoulder width apart onto the back of a chair or even a wall. Walk your feet back until arms are straight. Stretch your hips back toward the wall behind you. Stay here 3-5 breaths.
NAVASANA, OR BOAT POSE:
Sit back on your tailbone lifting toes to eye level. Feel free to hold the backs of legs for added support as you continue to build core strength, other wise reach fingers toward toes.
leen upper body back rounding shoulders up and back, elongate the spine, keep shins parallel to earth
If you feel strong you may straighten the legs or perhaps lean torso back further and begin to lower legs toward earth
Strengthening the core protects our back. this pose also improves posture.
PARSVA UPAVISTA KONASANA, OR SEATED WIDE LEGGED STRETCH:
Inhale, sit tall and exhale right shoulder to right thigh, gazing upward
Extend left arm over left ear and reach out through your finger tips
feel the long side body stretch as your ribs expand, loosening the “cage” that holds our heart
This stretch lengthens and strengthens the spine and back muscles, improves spinal alignment, and improves posture. It also opens the hips, groin, and pelvis and increases blood flow to these areas.
THREAD THE NEEDLE:
Laying flat on back, bend knees with soles of feet on ground
Cross left foot over right knee and raise right toes to eye level (parallel to ground)
Thread arms around right thigh and gently pull thigh toward chest and using core to push low back into earth. Hold 3-5 breaths and then switch legs.
This pose feels highly therapeutic to my low back. It stretches the hips which reduces stiffness in both the hips and low back. This is a milder version of pigeon pose.
SUPTA MATSYENDRASANA, OR TWO KNEE RECLINED SPINAL TWIST:
Laying flat on your bend knees
Lift hips and rotate both legs to the far right. If this is too much pressure on knees or hips support the legs with a pillow or rolled blanket
Take arms out to your side in a “T” or place in “bank robber” position. Turn head to your left. Stay 3-5 breaths and repeat on the opposite side.
This pose stretches the upper and middle spine. It alleviates stiffness and low back pain. If you have furry friends they will offer assists ;)
If you sit at a desk the majority of the day for work or school try a few of the above stretches periodically. Change positions often and get outside for a short walk any time opportunity allows. Movement not only benefits the body, but it connects the body with the mind allowing us to become more mindful. If you are active at work and need to lift heavy items lift from the legs to protect your back. These stretches will also benefit you. If you found this article helpful please scroll down under the tags and click the heart on the left to give some love and let me know if I am doing a good job delivering helpful information.
With Health & Gratitude,
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