First developed in Northern India more than 5,000 years ago, yoga remains a popular discipline today. Numerous studies also suggest that yoga can be an effective way to manage back pain and other aches and pains affecting joints and muscles. If back pain is something you’re dealing with on a fairly regular basis, you may benefit from the slow, controlled movements of yoga as alternative to more strenuous forms of exercise. Here are five poses to consider incorporating into your exercise routine.
1. Downward-Facing Dog
This classic yoga pose provides a good stretch for extensors, the large muscles attached to the back of the spine that allow you to stand and lift things. While on your hands and knees, place your hands in front of your shoulders. Lift your knees from the floor and raise your tailbone upward. Stretch your hamstring muscles by pushing your heels gently to the floor.
2. Pigeon Pose
The pigeon pose actually works your hip flexors and rotators. While this may seem to have anything to do with your back, tight muscles in your hips can contribute to lower back pain. You’ll start in a downward dog position and bring your left knee forward and out to the left. Lower both of your legs while keeping your right leg extended behind you. If you’re up for a more challenging hamstring stretch, take your back foot and move it in toward your back.
3. Upward-Facing Dog
Even though your abdominal muscles are in the front, they do provide support to your spine. With the upward-facing dog pose, you’ll be working your abs while also stretching your spine. Place your palms face down in the middle of your ribs while lying on the floor. Bring your legs together and stretch your feet naturally backward. Lift your chest from the floor by using the strength of your back, not your hands.
4. Triangle Pose
Keeping your leg and back muscles strong can make it easier for your lumbar (lower) spine to bear the burden of daily movements. It’s these muscles that are strengthened and gently stretched while in the triangle pose. In particular, it strengthens the muscles on the sides of your torso and the muscle fibers in the iliotibial band that run from your pelvis along the outside part of the thigh on down. Spread your legs to form a triangle pattern while standing up. Extend one arm upward. Use the other arm to reach down sideways and touch the ground. If you can’t touch the ground comfortably, go as far as you can.
5. Child’s Pose
The child’s pose is a good yoga stretch to do before going to bed. You’ll sit back on your heels while on the floor. Your arms will be stretched out in front of you with your head down. What this pose does is elongate your back to stretch supporting muscles. Doing so can also improve circulation and ease muscle tension, which may result in a better night’s sleep, which is also a good thing for your back.
Most of these poses are held for about 5-10 breaths. Do as many reps as you are comfortable doing. Yoga can relieve tight muscles, improve circulation, stimulate tissue healing, and even ease your stress. However, it’s still important to get an accurate diagnosis of the source of your back pain. Yoga is just one way you may be able to successfully take control of your daily discomfort, although it can easily become a part of your overall pain management plan. Yoga may not be right for you if you have severe pain. But it may be beneficial if you have occasional soreness or chronic mild or moderate aches.
Posted on behalf of Allied Pain & Spine Institute