3 Yoga Poses for Low Back Pain
Over 3/4 of adults experience low back pain at some point in their lifetime. It is the most common cause of job-related disability and a leading contributor to missed work days. In a large survey, more than a quarter of adults reported experiencing low back pain during the past 3 months. Men and women are equally affected by low back pain, which can range in intensity from a dull, constant ache to a sudden, sharp sensation that leaves the person incapacitated. Pain can begin abruptly as a result of an accident or by lifting something heavy, or it can develop over time due to age-related changes of the spine. Sedentary lifestyles also can set the stage for low back pain (“Low Back Pain Fact Sheet”, 2018).
Low back pain is an issue that I have personally had for years and yoga is one of the best things that I’ve done that has helped to proactively minimize the pain I experience and how often I feel it. I’ve found that there are not only many yoga poses that help stretch, decompress and release my back, but there are also many poses that have helped greatly increase the strength of my core, which has helped me to have less low back pain than I used to. Have you experienced back pain at any point in your life?
Malasana helps to stretch your thighs, groin and lower back, so for those of us with lower back pain this pose feels great to release the back, open up the body and find some relief. To get into Malasana stand with the feet about hip width apart with the toes pointing outward. Squat down deep and bring the hands to heart center. To amplify Malasana press against the legs with the elbows for a deeper stretch or twist the torso to one side and then the other. Malasana can be modified by applying less pressure to the legs with the arms, reaching down and touching the ground rather than placing the hands at heart center or placing a block under the butt for support.
Cat / Cow pose stretches your spine in different directions while warming up your body and spine. Begin in table top position. The shoulders should be over the wrists and the hips over the knees with fingers spread wide. Inhale in neutral spine. Exhale and round the spine toward the ceiling while tucking the chin toward the chest for Cat pose. Inhale and lift the head and tailbone while letting the stomach drop down toward the floor for Cow pose. Exhale and round the spine like the St. Louis Arch while tucking the chin toward the chest for Cat pose. Continue moving from Cat to Cow for 4 more breaths. To amplify Cat / Cow round and arch your back deeper, press into the mat more or add in hip circles. To modify make the motions less pronounced. Sitting on your shins then arching and rounding is another way to do this even more gently.
Half Pigeon pose is a great release for the hips and lower back. Start in downward facing dog then bring the right leg forward and place the right knee behind the right wrist and right foot behind the left wrist. Flex the right foot to protect the knee. Raise your arms overhead, bend at the hips and lower your upper body to the ground. Hold for at least 30 seconds. Push back into downward facing dog and repeat on the other side. To amplify half pigeon, extend the arms out in front of you and over to the right, keeping the top of the left thigh and left toes connected to the ground. Repeat on the other side. To modify half pigeon keep your chest lifted and hands on the ground. Another modification is reclined pigeon. Lie on the back and bend the left knee to a 90 degree angle and cross the right ankle over the left knee. Grab the right thigh or knee and pull it toward your chest. Repeat on the other side.
Which poses will you add into your days to help with your low back pain?