There is an overwhelming number of people who suffer from back pain and are at a loss on what to do, aside from rest and over-the-counter medications. Back pain, however, can easily be prevented and you do not need to be a chronic sufferer!
Here are a few of the common causes to back pain:
- The biggest culprit is living a sedentary lifestyle, where we’re spending most of our days sitting in the car, at work and at home.
- Sitting for long periods of time causes tight hamstrings and hip flexors. When the hip flexors are tight, they contract and pull on the low back. Sitting for prolonged periods of time causes a weak core and when your core is weak it forces the low back to take over which can lead to a lot of back pain. In fact a weak core is probably the most common source of back pain.
- Another big culprit is technology, we are constantly hunched over our phones and computers leading to poor posture.
- One of the biggest things people don’t realize is that stress plays a major role, which can lead to sluggish digestion (bloating and constipation) and can cause low back pain.
Are you curently experiencing back pain?
When your back is experiencing spasms or pain of any kind, you want to try to find a pain-free position. The most common one is laying on your back on the floor with your legs at 90 degrees resting on top of the couch or chair. This should help to get you in a pain-free zone.
You also want to try to move minimally, sitting will make it worse. Try gentle walking for a few minutes or very mild stretches so long as it doesn’t exacerbate anything further.
Be sure to avoid forward folding during times of intense back pain.
The following yoga poses are targeted at preventing back pain by strengthening your core and increasing the flexibility in your hamstrings and hip flexors. These poses will also help you de-stress, stimulate your digestion, and improve your posture, thereby reducing future back pain flare-ups!
Of course always listen to your body and do what feels right for you and your back. Yoga should feel good, so do not attempt any pose that causes severe pain in any part of your body.
1. YOGA PLANK VARIATIONS – CORE WORKOUT
Start in plank with toes on the blanket or towel draw knees to chest, making sure shoulders are stacked over wrists and hips stay over knees at 90 degrees. Extend out back to plank then pull legs up to pike, staying on tippy toes and keeping legs as straight as possible. Repeat as many times as possible.
Great full body workout that focuses to strengthen the core. If you suffer from back pain strengthening your core is a great way to help reduce and prevent further flare ups.
When our core is weak we tend to compensate strength and our back muscles take over, compromising our low back.
2. MODIFIED COMPASS POSE – HAMSTRING STRETCH
Sitting on a block, extend the right leg forward and tuck the left leg behind, so the shin bone is resting on the floor, knee is pointing directly forward and top of the foot flat on the floor. If this hurts the bent knee, place the foot flat on the floor and knee pointing to the ceiling. Sit upright and lengthen your spine. Grasp the back of the thigh of your extended leg or hook the big toe with your two peace fingers, guiding it towards your chest. Breath in the pose for as long as comfortable. Release and repeat on the opposite side.
When the hamstrings are tight our range of motion in our pelvis becomes compromised. The body will transfer the work to move the pelvis to the low back, which increases stress on the low lumbar eventually causing low back pain.
3. EAGLE POSE
Wrap your lower body first: Stand with the bases of your big toes touching and arms at your sides, slightly bend both knees and wrap your right thigh over your left. If you are able, you can do a “double-wrap” by curling your right foot around your left calf. Your left knee should be facing forward and you should not feel any strain in your knees. If you are in double-wrap and find your left leg being pulled away from midline, stay in single wrap.
Upper body: reach both arms in front of you and cross your left elbow over your right upper arm. Bend your right arm at your elbow, palm towards your face. Bend your left arm at your elbow, again palm towards your face. Press your palms flat against each other with your fingers long, and raise your elbows to shoulder height. Stay in this pose for a few breaths and then unwrap your upper body then your lower body. Repeat the pose wrapping the opposite legs and arms.
Releases tightness across your sacrum and helps to improve mobility of the hips. This pose helps to increase circulation which is a great way to reduce inflammation in the body, a big cause of back pain.
4. TREE POSE WITH FORWARD FOLD
Stand with feet hip distance apart, put some of your weight into your right foot, keeping the inner portion rooted firmly into the floor. Place the sole of your left foot on your right ankle, or for a greater challenge, place the sole of your left foot on your right inner thigh, above the knee joint or higher towards your pelvis. Press your left foot into your right leg. Keep your right foot firmly pressed into the floor, open your hips forward and lengthen tailbone towards the floor. Bending from the waist, reach your hands to the floor, holding the back of your right calf if your hamstrings are tight or resting your hands on the floor. After a few breaths in this pose, slowly raise your torso up back into standing and release your leg to the floor. Repeat on the opposite side.
Opens hips and stretches hamstrings while strengthening the spine, also a great pose for sciatica sufferers.
5. TRIANGLE POSE
Stand at the top of your mat with your feet parallel and on your exhale, step your left foot back. There should be about 3-4 ft between your feet. Turn your left foot out so that it is pointing perpendicular to your right foot. Align your right heel so that it is in line with the left heel. Keep your thighs firm and rotate your right thigh outwards so your right knee is in line with the centre of the right ankle. Raise your arms parallel to the floor and reach them actively out to the side, shoulder blades wide and palms down. Exhale, and bending from the hip joint, not your waist, extend your torso directly over your right leg. Keep your left leg strong and keep the outer heel pressed firmly into the floor. Gently rotate your torso to the left keeping both sides at equal length. Allow your left hip to come forward lengthen your tailbone towards your back heel. Rest your hand on your shin, ankle or floor/block on the outside of your right leg. Take a few breaths in your pose and then lift your torso upright and step your feet together to release the pose.
Helps to relieve backache by strengthening and stretching hips, groin, hamstring and spine all in one pose. Also a great pose for those with sciatica and a key pose to help open the hips.
6. SHOULDER STAND TO PLOW POSE
Shoulder Stand – Lie on your back with your arms alongside your torso. Bend your knees, feet flat on the floor with your heels close to butt. Exhale and press your arms into the floor while pushing your feet away from the floor and drawing your knees to your chest. Curl your back away from the floor so that your knees can come closer to your face. With your arms parallel to edge of your mat, bend your elbows and spread your palms against the back of your torso, supporting your back. Lift your pelvis over your shoulders so that your torso is perpendicular to the floor. Walk your hands along your back towards the floor, keeping your elbows at shoulder width. On your inhale, press your feet towards the ceiling, lengthening the backs of your legs so that they are in line with your torso, pressing your thighs together. Lift through your big toes so your inner legs are slightly longer than your outer legs. Soften your throat and remember to breathe.
Plow Pose – To add plow pose, as you exhale, lower your toes to the floor above your head, bending from the hip. With your toes touching the floor, lift the top of your thighs and tailbone up towards the ceiling. Keep your chin away from your chest, keep a soft throat and breathe. You can continue to support your back with your palms, or you may stretch them out along your map, palms down, in the opposite direction of your legs. To release, with your hands on your back again lift yourself back into shoulder stand on exhale. Then gently roll out your back, one vertebra at a time, releasing your hands to your side as you lower your legs back to the mat.
Shoulder stand helps to improve posture by opening chest and shoulders, good posture helps reduce low back pain. Strengthens the spine and the back body by increasing flexibility in the front body. Plow pose helps to open the hamstrings and stretches the back body.
7. CROUCHING DOG
On your hands and knees, with your hands below your shoulders and knees below your hips, spread your palms, keep your index fingers pointed forward and curl your toes under. Exhale and lift your knees off the floor, keeping them slightly bent and your heels slightly lifted off the mat. Lengthen your back, lifting your sitting bones towards the ceiling and drawing the low ribs towards the quads.
Gentle on your back, helps to lengthen the spine and reduce strain and compression on the low back. This is a great pose if you are experiencing back pain as it helps to decompress the spine.