Guest Post - Yoga For Low Back Pain


Ah, back pain… Where do I start?

About 3 in 4 people experience back pain at some point in their lives so, needless to say, it’s kind of a big deal.

There are countless reasons for it and countless ways to treat it.

But, let’s say there was a way to treat it AND prevent it. Would you go for it?

Enter Yoga.

In stereo: “Hi Yoga!”

(General Disclaimer: Yoga might not work for everyone. Just like every type of exercise should be specific to your needs, you should investigate if yoga is right for you.)

Yoga is a physical, mental, and spiritual discipline, which originated in India. It is based on the premise of attaining a state of perfect spiritual insight and tranquility. There is a meditative aspect and a physical aspect to the practice of yoga. With respect to back pain, the focus here is the action aspect of yoga. Don’t discount the meditative aspect, however, as it also has it’s own benefits.

Back pain is a funny (see: annoying) thing in that it makes us want to lie on the couch all day until the pain goes away. But, in fact, that is the exact opposite of what we should be doing. We should continue to move and be active so as to help loosen off any stiffness and keep the muscles in the back and core working and strong. However, some routines may need to be changed or substituted. This is where yoga comes in.

Yoga is a low-impact exercise, which can both raise your heart rate and recruit muscles you never knew you had before.

So, here are the basics of yoga:

Sun Salutations
  • There are 3 different sequences for Sun Salutations (A, B, and C). However, each teacher, book, or video has its own slight variations.
  • These are often used to warm up the body and are often considered the “cardio” component of a yoga practice.
  • This is also where Brandon’s favorite posture—the plank—fits into the practice.
photo source yogajournal.com
Standing & Balance Postures
  • Welcome to the part where your body tries to recruit every muscle possible to keep you from falling over. While the postures may be difficult or stressful, they are wonderfully beneficial for getting every part of your body to work together.
  • Take care of your neck. Many of these postures include looking up toward the sky but, if it bothers your neck, just look to the floor. Just because the teacher or the picture looks one way doesn’t mean you can’t adapt the posture to better work for you.
  • The key to succeeding in these postures is to focus solely on YOU. It sounds silly, but the moment your mind wanders off your mat is the moment the postures don’t work for you and don’t carry the same benefits as they did before.
photo source yogajournal.com
Seated Postures
  • Many of the seated postures are about releasing tension following all that hard work earlier in your practice. Don’t be fooled though, you will still be challenged, but it will just be different from before.
photo source yogajournal.com

Supine and Prone Postures (Lying on your back or stomach, respectively)
  • These poses are great for the core, a.k.a. all those muscles surrounding your midsection. Some are active and some are passive. Some strengthen and some stretch.  It’s all what you make of it.
  • Success in these postures really comes from making a connection with your mat. Early on it will be your foundation and the source of strength from which you push. Later it almost becomes like your cocoon. Basically, your mat will be your best friend.

photo source yogajournal.com
So, what do you need to do to fix or prevent your back pain?

I could try to list off the poses which are most helpful for fighting back pain, but that wouldn’t do much for you in the long run. It’s the practice as a whole that helps. Not to mention, everyone’s pain is different. So, the poses I like most might not be the poses you like most. Just like the running shoes I like could be entirely different from the type you like.

Although, if I’m going to be honest with you… I hate running. That’s probably one of the reasons I love yoga.

Anyway, go forth, young grasshoppers! Your mat awaits you (even if it is still at the store).
In the mean time, here’s a pose you can do without a mat…
photo source yogajournal.com
Afraid to make a fool of yourself? Don’t be. Laughing on its own is a good workout for your core too!

Kaitlin Freienmuth is a MSc Physiotherapy student at Robert Gordon University with a background in Kinesiology and Psychology, emphasis on Psychology of Injury. She has a passion for fresh air, worldly travel and her dog, Maddie. She has been practicing yoga for 3 years following a string of back injuries in high school. you can follow her blog here: Adventures of the Mischief Machine

7 comments:

  1. Yoga is really the best. I tried it just last year for the first time and I find it very interesting and amazing as well. Until now I did yoga and finally enrolled in a yoga class. Yoga can help treating our back pains.

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  2. Aside from relieving you from pain, yoga is also good for relaxation and restoring normal body functions such as blood flow, heart rate, breathing, etc. However, if yoga does not seem to work to alleviate your back pain, there are many medical means to manage pain. Chiropractic is gaining a reliable reputation in the treatment of neuromusculoskeletal disorders. Generally, it involves manual therapy and manipulation of the spine, joints, and soft tissues. But, it's always a good practice to do some research prior submitting yourself to any kind of medical procedures.

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  3. Truthfully, there are no reasons why any of us cannot be, or do, what we want, as long as you are not hurting anyone. You should always strive to be the best you can be. However, you may find that many people create obstacles, in front of themselves, to avoid success.

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  4. What a great idea. I have back pain and I am finding a home exercise to get relief. I think yoga is good solution for me. I am definitely going to start it.

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  5. When it comes to back pain, I am nothing but familiar with it. I realized that exercising (i.e: light stretching, yoga) coupled with a good back brace for that extra back support helped me tremendously with my back. In the process of recovery, my doctor recommended physiotherapy where I had my back decompressed with a machine that strectched out my back and spine in intervals. I definitely recommend yoga and a corset-like back brace to maintain strong back muscles as well as extra back support. I bought mine online from the people at BraceAbility. See: http://www.braceability.com/back-braces-back-supports-lumbar-belts-lumbar-supports (TBC)

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  6. Thanks for the information! Recently I saw a specialist for back pain in NJ and he told me similar things. Another tip he gave me was to sleep with a pillow between my legs, since it helps align your hips with your spine.

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  7. As Chiropractor I recommend to try yoga to relieve lower right back pain for a long term , it sometimes works better than acupuncture for some of my clients.

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