Heal Your Lower Back Pain With These 5 Yoga Poses
In the United States lower back pain is one of most common complaints. The Mayo Clinic states that most people will experience low back pain at some point in their lives. Lower back pain is experienced by sedentary people as well as highly-trained athletes.
In the United States lower back pain is one of most common complaints. The Mayo Clinic states that most people will experience low back pain at some point in their lives. Lower back pain is experienced by sedentary people as well as highly-trained athletes.
We have also added a recent updated set of poses: 5 Yoga Exercises for a Healthy Low Back. Check both articles out for a comprehensive approach to using yoga for back pain.
If you look at a typical weekday of an average American who works a nine-to-five job, it is easy to see why lower back pain is an issue.
A Marathon of Sitting Leads to Low Back Pain
Upon awakening one may sit to have coffee or breakfast before sitting to drive to work. When arriving at work the corporate employee will often sit at a desk or in meetings until lunch. Lunch involves more sitting, before sitting at the desk to finish the workday. Then of course there is the commute home and another sit-down meal.
Exhausted from a long day of sitting at the office one may choose to sit on the sofa to watch television to unwind. If we look at it from an anatomical standpoint we realize the hamstring muscles and the illiopsoas muscles are shortened from the many hours of sitting and this causes strain on the lower back.
But I'm an Athlete, and My Back Still Hurts
Athletes on the other hand are not sedentary, so why the lower back pain? Any weight-bearing sport or exercise that involves running, jumping, or rapid dynamic movements produces tension on the lower back. When these activities are repeated over time without properly stretching and releasing these tight muscles overuse injuries may occur.
For the sedentary nine-to-five worker exercise is key for relieving lower back pain as well as reducing the risk of heart disease and diabetes. However, I’m assuming you are not in that category. If you are, then add some cardiovascular exercises along with the lower back stretches suggested below.
If you have a slipped disc in the lower back or sciatica, please avoid all deep forward bends as these can make your condition worse.
Lower Back Pain Relief Yoga Sequences
For lower back relief please do the following poses daily or at least after your workout. Breathe deeply in and out of the nose while doing these poses.
Lower Back Pain Relief Yoga Sequence #1: Supine Hamstring Stretch
Lying on your back, bend your right knee into your chest and place a strap or rolled-up towel around the ball of your foot. Straighten your leg toward the ceiling. Press out through both heels. If the lower back feels strained, bend the left knee and place the foot on the ground. Hold for 3-5 minutes and then switch to the left let for 3-5 minutes.
Lower Back Pain Relief Yoga Sequence #2: Two-Knee Twist
Lying on your back, bend your knees into your chest and bring your arms out at a T. As you exhale lower your knees to ground on the right. Keep both shoulders pressing down firmly. If the left shoulder lifts, lower your knees further away from the right arm. Hold for 1-2 minutes each side
Lower Back Pain Relief Yoga Sequence #3: Sphinx
Lying on your stomach, prop yourself up on your forearms. Align your elbows directly under your shoulders. Press firmly through your palms and the tops of your feet. Press your pubic bone forward. You will feel sensations in your lower back, but breathe through it. You are allowing blood flow into the lower back for healing. Hold for 1-3 minutes.
Lower Back Pain Relief Yoga Sequence #4A: Pigeon
From all-fours, bring your right knee behind your right wrist with your lower leg at a diagonal toward your left hip. Square off your hips toward the ground. Bend forward. Widen the elbows and place one hand on top of the other as a pillow for your forehead. Hold 2-3 minutes and then switch to the left side for 2-3 minutes.
If pigeon pose bothers your knees, then do Thread the Needle.
Lower Back Pain Relief Yoga Sequence #4B: Thread the Needle
Lying on your back, bend both knees with the feet flat on the ground. Bend the right knee like a figure four, with the outer left ankle to the right thigh. Lift the left foot into the air, bringing the left calf parallel to the ground. Thread your right hand between the opening of the legs and interlace your hands behind your left thigh. Hold 2-3 minutes and then repeat on the other side.
Lower Back Pain Relief Yoga Sequence #5: Legs Up the Wall
Scoot your buttocks all the way into the wall and swing your feet up the wall. This pose is excellent for relaxing the muscles of the lower back and drains stagnant fluid from the feet and ankles. Do this pose after a challenging workout and always after traveling by plane. Hold for 5-10 minutes.
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.
Check out these articles for more on back pain causes and relief:
Woman heard her spine go pop and broke her back while doing yoga
Jennifer Pond was carrying out a revolved hand to toe yoga pose during a class in 2014, when she heard the pop in her back.
At the time, she didn’t think much of it and wasn’t in pain – but she had actually broken a bone in her back, which gradually worsened and eventually left her unable to walk.
Event planner Jennifer, 31, from Saskatoon, Canada, broke her interarticularis bone, a small bone found in the lower region of the spine. The pars interarticularis is connected to the facet joints in the spine, which help maintain spinal stability.
In the days that followed the injury, she felt pain in her right leg and in her hip, but she just assumed it was a pulled muscle, but weeks later, when it wasn’t improving, she went to see a doctor.
An X-ray revealed that while doing yoga, Jennifer had broken the bone and the injury compromised Jennifer’s facet joints and vertebras, causing the lower spine to slip forward, which is known as spondylolisthesis.
Jennifer said: ‘This bone is connected to your facet joints, which serve as train tracks for your spine, ensuring your vertebras don’t fall off track.
‘I was in a standing twist pose when I heard an internal ‘pop’ in the lower region of my back. It wasn’t until later that I realised this small noise represented a moment that would change my life.
‘Immediately after, I wasn’t aware that anything was severely wrong with my spine. My initial symptoms presented in my right leg with intense leg pain and painful sensations in my upper front hip.
‘I assumed that I had merely pulled a leg muscle, however this theory could no longer be supported when the symptoms began presenting themselves in my left leg. By the time I made it to my doctor a few weeks later, the pain had made its way into my lower back. It took an X-ray to see what the problem was.
‘The initial injury developed into a pretty severe condition called spondylolisthesis, meaning part of my lower spine is slipping forward. Specifically, one of my vertebras is slipping over the one below.
‘As your spine is a complex part of all movement and surrounded by important anatomy, it’s a tough place for things to be shaking around.’
Since developing spondylolisthesis, Jennifer has lived with chronic pain, leg weakness, nerve pain, stiffness in her back and numbness in her legs and she tried many non-surgical treatments, including physiotherapy, acupuncture, spinal injections and massage therapy.
What is spinal fusion therapy?
Spinal fusion is used to join 2 or more vertebrae together by placing an additional section of bone in the space between them.
This helps to prevent excessive movements between 2 adjacent vertebrae, lowering the risk of further irritation or compression of the nearby nerves and reducing pain and related symptoms.
The additional section of bone can be taken from somewhere else in your body (usually the hip) or from a donated bone. More recently, synthetic (man-made) bone substitutes have been used.
To improve the chance of fusion being successful, some surgeons may use screws and connecting rods to secure the bones.
Afterwards, the surgeon will close the incision with stitches or surgical staples.
Despite trying to reduce her pain for four years, none of Jennifer’s efforts worked. She could only walk short distances and day-to-day activities became very difficult.
Jennifer’s life was brought to a standstill as she backed out of many career, family and social activities due to the pain.
She adds: ‘My symptoms have varied over the years and the intensity can change on any given day – you have no real sense of what you’ll wake up to. Spondylolisthesis is like an ever-changing fingerprint: it’s not only unique to you but the print itself is constantly changing.
‘I’ve worked very hard with my medical team and tried all conservative treatment methods, including physiotherapy, acupuncture, spinal injections, resting, icing and massage therapy.
‘Unfortunately, there was no improvement and they would often cause inflammation.
‘As my condition worsened, so did my quality of life. I was unable to complete many normal and necessary life tasks. If I was physically able to do certain things, in most cases, I had to adjust how and how often I did the task.
‘I have to schedule duties around the needs of my condition and most activities result in debilitating pain. There is a constant fear of further slippage.’
A spinal fusion was Jennifer’s last option, and despite her fears of surgery and the 60 per cent chance the surgery would increase her quality of life, she knew she had run out of alternatives.
‘Although spinal fusion surgery has some scary short and long-term risks and there’s guaranteed outcomes, at this point, it was my only option left if I want to fight for stability both in my spine and life,’ she said
‘I was very scared of surgery, but I was working with an incredible surgeon and I knew that my medical team had exhausted all other treatment options to avoid this surgery.
‘My surgeon believed he could increase the quality of my life with the surgery, so that I have less pain and more stability. Surgery isn’t a cure, but it can help me regain my life back.’
Jennifer’s spinal fusion took place on June 10, 2019, and although recovery will be slow, she has already seen progress in her walking ability.
‘Waking up was traumatic,’ she says. ‘The pain was severe, and it took hours to get it under control. I was in the recovery room for roughly five hours and unfortunately stopped breathing twice so they had to massage my chest in order to resuscitate me.
‘It is both a physical and mental battle, full of challenges that you must overcome. In the initial stages, the level of disability combined with the pain was overwhelming and at times unbearable, but what helps this situation is choosing to accept your position and allow your caregivers and family to take over.
‘I also have to continually remind myself to sort of ride the recovery wave as each new day brings on different pain, emotions and obstacles.
‘The recovery has been slow, but I am currently walking better. My left leg below my knee is mostly numb, but I’m staying positive.
How to practise yoga safely at home
Yoga can have many health benefits but like any physical activity, you need to do what you can to prevent injuries.
Warming up and starting small before you work your way up to more complicated poses can help.
Look at some yoga poses for beginners before you start.
‘I want to build my life back up again and add those blocks back to it that I have lost over the years. I want to spend energy on finding my purpose and pursue that avenue. I look forward to having children one day that I will not only love, but I can physically hold and play with, and to be able to say yes to new opportunities that come my way!
‘I would never be able to manage my way through these obstacles without the incredible support of my loved ones. Caregivers deserve so much acknowledgement for all they do in order to help those living with illness.’
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Event planner, 31, 'broke her back during a yoga class'
A woman was left walking with a cane after she broke her back during a yoga class.
Jennifer Pond heard a 'pop' while in a standing twist pose in 2014.
The event planner, now 31, immediately felt pain in her right leg and hip, which she dismissed as a pulled muscle.
When the discomfort became unbearable, Miss Pond had an X-ray, which revealed she had broken the interarticularis bone at the base of her spine.
The injury weakened her backbone, which resulted in it slipping forwards, known as spondylolisthesis.
This caused Miss Pond, of Saskatoon, Canada, constant pain, which left her walking with a limp and unable to manage long distances.
After four years of agony, Miss Pond reluctantly underwent spinal-fusion surgery on June 10.
Although early days, she is already walking better and hopes to one day be strong enough to start a family.
Jennifer Pond was left walking with a cane after she broke her back during a yoga class in 2014. This caused her to endure years of pain, which left her unable to get about. She is pictured at a wedding earlier this month while recovering from spinal-fusion surgery she had on June 10
Miss Pond (pictured in hospital) reluctantly went under the knife to have the bones in her vertebrae connected, so they cannot move independently. This should help strengthen her spine after she broke her interarticularis bone at the base of her vertebrae
The yoga fanatic (pictured before the ordeal) heard a 'pop' while in a standing twist pose
Speaking of the ordeal, Miss Pond said: 'I fractured my pars interarticularis bone during a yoga class.
'This bone is connected to your facet joints, which serve as train tracks for your spine, ensuring your vertebras don't fall off track.
'I was in a standing twist pose when I heard an internal "pop" in the lower region of my back.
'It wasn't until later that I realised this small noise represented a moment that would change my life.'
Miss Pond immediately felt an intense pain in her leg and upper right hip but never imagined the discomfort could be related to her spine.
'I assumed I had merely pulled a leg muscle, however this theory could no longer be supported when the symptoms began presenting themselves in my left leg,' she said.
'By the time I made it to my doctor a few weeks later, the pain had made its way into my lower back.'
Miss Pond had an X-ray, which revealed the true extent of the damage.
'The initial injury developed into a pretty severe condition called spondylolisthesis, meaning part of my lower spine is slipping forward,' she said.
'Specifically, one of my vertebras is slipping over the one below.'
Spondylolisthesis triggered chronic pain, as well as leg weakness, back stiffness and numbness in her limbs.
'The pain changes and can move around my body but is always present in my lower back,' Miss Pond said.
'My symptoms have varied over the years and the intensity can change on any given day. You have no real sense of what you'll wake up to.
'Spondylolisthesis is like an ever-changing fingerprint. It's not only unique to you but the print itself is constantly changing.'
Miss Pond (left) endured four years of agony while she desperately tried to relieve her pain through acupuncture, physiotherapy and massage. With few options left, she eventually agreed to go under the knife despite her fear of surgery. Miss Pond is pictured left recovering
Although early days, Miss Pond (pictured after the spinal fusion) is already able to walk better
Over the next four years, Miss Pond tried many non-surgical interventions, including physiotherapy, acupuncture and massage, which did little to ease her discomfort.
She soon became unable to help out around the house or lift anything remotely heavy.
'As my condition worsened, so did my quality of life,' Miss Pond said. 'I was unable to complete many normal and necessary life tasks.'
Despite her fear of surgery, and spinal fusion have just a 60 per cent chance of improving a patient's quality of life, Miss Pond eventually agreed to go under the knife.
'Although spinal-fusion surgery has some scary short and long-term risks, it was my only option left if I want to fight for stability both in my spine and life,' she said.
'My surgeon believed he could increase the quality of my life with the surgery, so that I have less pain and more stability.
'Surgery isn't a cure, but it can help me regain my life back.'
The procedure involves fusing the slipped bone in the spine to the bones next to it using metal screws and rods, which are left there permanently.
Miss Pond (pictured with her boyfriend Samuel) hopes to one day start a family
Pictured after surgery, Miss Ponds accept it 'isn't a cure' but will 'give her her life back'
When Miss Pond woke from the operation, she was immediately in severe pain and went on to suffer complications.
'Waking up was traumatic,' she said. 'The pain was severe and it took hours to get it under control.
'I was in the recovery room for roughly five hours and unfortunately stopped breathing twice so they had to massage my chest in order to resuscitate me.'
Although recovery has been tough, Miss Pond insists she made the right decision in going under the knife.
'I have to continually remind myself to sort of ride the recovery wave as each new day brings on different pain, emotions and obstacles,' she said.
'The recovery has been slow, but I am walking better. My left leg below my knee is mostly numb, but I'm staying positive.'
Miss Pond is now determined to get back to the life she had before.
'I want to build my life back up again and add those blocks back to it I have lost over the years,' she said.
'I want to spend energy on finding my purpose and pursue that avenue.
'I look forward to having children one day that I will not only love, but I can physically hold and play with, and to be able to say yes to new opportunities that come my way.'
Find out more at Miss Pond's Instagram page.
Miss Pond's (left) condition became so severe she was 'unable to complete many normal and necessary life tasks' like housework. She is pictured right walking around the hospital corridors after coming round from the operation in 'severe pain'
Although recovery has been tough, Miss Pond (pictured showing off her surgery scar) insists she made the right decision in going under the knife. She is determined to 'build her life back'
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In my work as a physical therapist I’m often asked by my patients about the practice of yoga. Many of them suffer from back pain or have undergone spine surgery and want to know if yoga would help them improve their mental and physical health. Below, is a recent question from one of my patients and my response.
Question: I’m personally interested in starting yoga. I have been working out in a gym regularly for the past 10 years and consider myself to be in pretty good shape. Unfortunately, I was involved in a car accident. My doctor prescribed a course of physical therapy to help me recover. I’m concerned about making my injury worse or setting back my recovery by working out at the gym. Would yoga be a good way for me to exercise until I can return to my regular work out?
Yoga can benefit many people with low back and neck pain when certain poses are avoided. Photo Source: 123RF.com.
Answer: Yoga can help but Yoga can also injure.
Exercise is crucial for recovery and yoga can be a gentle way to get movement back into your life. Patients benefit from yoga for many reasons. Here’s what a regular yoga practice may do for you:
- Provide pain relief
- Improve your mind/body connection
- Increase strength and flexibility
- Teach relaxation and calming techniques
- Improve your energy level
- Stabilize your metabolism
A regular exercise plan should also include some cardio because there are huge benefits from getting the heart rate up. I prefer 'minimal joint loading' exercises, such as biking and swimming! Although pain from many types of joint injury can be managed by participating in cardiovascular exercises, Yoga’s gentle movements can be a wonderful complement to the healing process.
What’s the Best Way to Start?
There are many different types of yoga. Most sessions typically last an hour and include breathing exercises, meditation and holding poses (sometimes called postures) that stretch and tone a variety of muscle groups.
To help my patients visualize how yoga can benefit the spine, I use a very simple analogy:
- Think of your spine as 2 graham crackers, with a marshmallow in between and a rubber band around the concoction. The 2 graham crackers represent the vertebral bodies of the spine, the marshmallow is the disc in between and the rubber band represents the ligament and muscles that surround them.
- The tighter the rubber band is, the more it compresses the graham crackers and smushes the marshmallow. When a patient stretches, the “rubber band” loosens the pressure on the graham crackers and reduces the load or compression of the marshmallow. Yoga, when done properly, can similarly affect the spine.
Exercise is crucial for recovery and yoga can be a gentle way to help you “get back on your feet.” Yoga may help promote circulation, relaxation, strength and flexibility. Just remember that "pure plane movements" (eg, moving forward then backward) are essential until your body becomes more flexible. In other words, move carefully forward, then sideways and extremely cautiously backward.
- Absolutely no movements that combine bending and twisting.
- To allow the muscles to adapt and become comfortable with these movements, hold poses for at least 30 seconds without bouncing to help minimize potential injury.
Before incorporating Yoga into your workout routine, obtain your doctor or physical therapist’s approval first.
Finding a Certified Yoga Instructor
Ask your doctor and/or therapist if he/she can recommend a certified yoga instructor; preferably someone with 500 hours of instruction. Some classes at Yoga centers are taught by teachers with 200 hours of instruction. Look for small class sizes and a teacher that closely monitors movements and poses yogis closely. It is important that the teacher be aware and make gentle adjustments or offer modifications to class participants as necessary.
Avoid: There are also weekend yoga certification options more typically offered through large gyms— with big Yoga classes (50 people or more). A teacher with that level of experience would not be the right choice for someone recovering from injury or surgery.
There are many types of yoga and levels of difficulty. I suggest starting off with a type known as Restorative Flow. It is just that—it restores the flow from one part of your body to another with slow and controlled movements and poses that emphasize stretch and most importantly breathing.
Go Slow, Listen to Your Body
When healing from an injury, it’s important to take it slowly. Listen to your body and let it guide you to movements that feel safe and comfortable. Don’t push beyond that for now. Talk to your instructor before class and let him/her know that you have a compromised joint (eg, spondylosis) or are recovering from injury. Ask about modifications that do not include bending and twisting combinations or “advanced” postures that may over load your joints.
For most patients/people a beginner or restorative Yoga class is best. If you are on budget (classes can cost $10 and up), consider purchasing an instructional DVD, yoga stretch belt and block. Some DVDs offer program variations of 20 to 60 minutes and are very educational and easy to follow.
Remember: Listen to your body. "Stretch pain" is okay, "Sharp pain" is not.
Good luck and keep on moving!
Caution: Yoga poses that involve simultaneous bending and twisting movement is not recommended for everyone with a back or neck problem. Please talk with your doctor before including yoga movements that blend bending and twisting movements (eg, triangle pose, spine twist).
Continue reading ... Yoga Poses for Back Pain
Log in to Discuss this PostSours: https://www.spineuniverse.com/blogs/davis/yoga-thats-safe-my-spine
Back yoga broken
'Doing yoga saved my broken back'
By Jane Elliott
Yoga helped John's back recover
Yoga has long been considered beneficial to the body, but could it be a cure for lower-back pain?
Yoga teacher John Aplin is certain that it can.
After he broke his back in a walking accident 12 years ago he was impressed by the effect yoga had on his recovery.
Now the professor in foetal and maternal health at Manchester University has signed up to be part of a large trial to test how lower-back pain responds to a 12-week course of yoga therapy.
More than 300 people in five centres across England have been recruited for the York University trial and each participant will be monitored for a year afterwards.
Professor Aplin said his own experiences of yoga therapy had made him keen to take part as a tutor.
"I had been thinking about yoga interventions, so when this came through I was quite interested because of my own background," he said.
Professor Aplin said he broke several bones, including three vertebrae in his back and ribs, when he fell 30 feet off a crag in 1996.
There were fears that he might never walk again and he was kept immobile in hospital for six weeks to allow his bones to slowly recover.
"I was quite weak," he said. "Obviously you lose muscle bulk as you spend time lying down.
"So I began very gingerly to practise yoga again and at that time had advice from my teacher and the Iyengar family in India, who had founded the yoga school that I teach in.
"They said they wanted to see pictures of my injuries so I had somebody take pictures of my torso, showing the shape of my rib cage after these injuries, various pictures of my ribs, broken fingers and toes.
"These pictures were faxed to India and they looked at them and recommended a programme for me.
"I pursued this programme and became stronger and made a full recovery.
"The accident was in the July and I went back to teaching yoga the following January. I went back to work gradually and back full-time after three months."
Professor Aplin said he was positive it was the yoga that aided his recovery.
"It was hugely instrumental in helping my back," he said.
"As a scientist I looked at the effects of doing certain postures and monitored the effects that day and the day after and working out what should be done in a systematic way - that was hugely helpful," he said.
David Torgerson, director of the University of York clinical trials unit, said there had been several smaller trials in the US into the effect of yoga on lower-back pain, but that because they were so small it had been unclear if any benefits were down to the therapies or a particular teacher.
He said their Arthritis Research Campaign-backed project would assess moves from the two most popular types of yoga.
These are lyengar yoga and Hatha yoga, favoured by the British Wheel of Yoga.
"We hope that at the end of it we might have a potential treatment for back pain," he said.
"Evidence on back-pain treatments shows that exercise in some form or another is beneficial for back pain, and yoga is a form of exercise.
"It is also a type of exercise that tries to improve people's posture, which may have an additional effect."
The yoga classes will be carefully structured for people who are complete novices and will not involve any difficult poses.
They will start off gently but become more demanding over the 12-week period, with a combination of stretches, bends, lying, sitting, standing and relaxing poses.
Patients will also be encouraged to practise daily at home.
A spokesman for Arthritis Research Campaign said it would be interesting to see whether Professor Aplin's experiences would be replicated.
"John Aplin's incredible recovery from his injuries, helped by his dedication to yoga, is inspirational," he said.
"It will be fascinating to find out if our trial helps people with less severe, but more long-term back problems in a similar way.
"If so it could have major implications for the treatment of chronic low-back pain."
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