Ways Yoga Can Help to Deal with Your Back Pain
Back pain is one of the most common issues people across all age groups are going through. Prolonged back pain can get really painful to deal with it, so here we are to your rescue! We have curated a list of things you can do to eliminate the pain for good.
It is more common than you think. The solution is more attainable than you imagine. One word — Yoga. Shvasa yoga can help relieve your back pain and keep it at bay.
With work from home becoming today’s reality, we end up spending hours sitting (more like slouching!) in front of the laptop. This leads to red, watery eyes. Your back can’t take it either! Soon, the prolonged sitting is going to land you up with a strained back.
Sitting puts pressure on the discs in the spine, leading to lower back pain. Oh, you have tried walking and slight stretches! That helped, for sure. But as soon as you sat down to meet the deadline, the pain in the back returned. We have all been through that. So, we use the cushion. But you soon notice that a simple cushion supporting your lower back is no longer doing the trick.
Gradually, the back stiffens, and your movement range reduces. How do we know all this? Because you are not alone.
You are Not Alone
About 31 million Americans experience low back pain at any given time. According to JAMA Internal Medicine, over 80 percent of the population will experience an episode of low back pain at some time during life. The same study states that low back pain is the second most common cause of disability among US adults.
Reasons for Back Pain
Here’s the thing, the back pain results from various factors. Some of those could be lifestyle-related issues, such as obesity, stress, poor posture, muscle fatigue, muscular weakness, and stiffness. It could also be a consequence of a disease, infection, injury, or fracture.
If you have consulted a licensed medical practitioner to ascertain that the backache you are experiencing is a consequence of your lifestyle, this article is for you. Keep reading for a stronger back with Shvasa yoga.
Back to basics
Our backs are a very complex structure. The back has the spine, muscles, nerves, ligaments, tendons, bones, cartilages, disks, etc. Each spinal segment connects with the vertebral bones with a pair of small facet joints. A critical component is the fluid-filled synovial membrane that coats the cartilage around bones to form synovial fluid, the lubricant that saves joints from friction. There is also the sacrum or the sacral vertebra at the base of the spine that provides support to the spine, accommodates spinal nerves, and joins at the pelvis. The pelvic girdle ensures support to the spine, too. That strong core is not just about those six-pack abs. A strong core strengthens the back and has a magical effect on proper spinal alignment.
Besides, the back is supported by a group of muscles, not just the back muscles! Some of the muscle groups that support mobility areas are:
- Extensor muscles come into action when standing and lifting objects
- Flexor muscles are active when flexing, bending forward, lifting, and arching the lower back
- Oblique muscles enable rotation and proper posture
This is not even the back's complete anatomy or support system, but you get the drift. So harping on the hamstring for back pain might not really work. A tight hamstring does lead to lower back pain, but it is not the only cause. Any inflation, dislocation, stiffness, and muscle weakness of the supporting muscles and structures will lead to backache. And that’s why yoga helps.
Simple Yoga Poses Can Help Relieve and Prevent Back Pain
Yes, now that you understand that the back is not just that hamstring or spine, you know that you need something wholesome for a strong back. Yoga is that holistic workout you have been looking for.
First off, simple yoga poses for lower back pain and upper back pain relief increase the blood flow to the area, helping it heal faster. “Yoga stretches flexes and strengthens every tendon, muscle, and cell of the body. For a back that has full mobility and smooth movement, various yoga asanas are the perfect workout and treatment,” confirms Arunima Singhdeo, founder of Shvasa and coveted yoga guru. Yoga is a great way to reduce your symptoms and give your back the necessary exercise to get its original flexibility.
Yoga poses or asanas give an optimum workout to support muscle groups and organs rather than targeting the affected area. A good yoga master understands the anatomy of the body and how various asanas stimulate our body. An expert yoga guru guides you to perform asanas that target muscle groups and organs and not just a specific part of the body. In this case, when all the muscle groups that support the back and its movements and the elements that form the structure are in good condition, you get a great back.
Science endorses yoga’s effectiveness in alleviating and treating chronic back pain. According to Harvard Health Publishing, yoga can help people with back pain, arthritis, and other chronic conditions. It cites a study stating that a weekly yoga class increased mobility more than standard medical care among those suffering from chronic low back pain.
So, yoga is for the back, but not just the back. Yoga for the target muscle group done under the right guru will alleviate your back pain. Before moving forward, we want to reiterate that you must first consult a licensed medical professional or follow the yoga asanas below under expert guidance.
How do Yoga Asanas Help in Back Pain Relief?
- Increases blood flow: Yoga postures or asanas help relax the spine, neck, and shoulders. Yoga also increases blood flow to the affected body part when done the right way. Once your spine is healthy, you will experience greater abdominal strength, too. Expanding your back, chest, and shoulders is also a great way to activate your prime energy sources.
- Decompresses the vertebral space: One of the several causes of back pain is the vertebrae experiencing undue stress. Yoga asanas that lengthen and stretch the spine can go a long way in reducing the pressure on the vertebra. Utthita Parsvakonasana, or the extended side angle pose, is great for increasing spinal flexibility. It also opens the hips and the chest.
- A tight hamstring will cause back pain, knee pain, or even foot pain. Stretching your hamstring muscle will lead to the motion of your pelvis expanding. This will reduce stress on your lower back. Downward Dog is excellent for treating a tight hamstring. However, if done incorrectly, it can aggravate the issue with the hamstring. Ensure you are giving your hamstring the proper exercise in the right amount.
- The Glutes: To start with, strengthening your glutes will support your efforts of reducing backache. When we sit for a prolonged period regularly, our upper leg and hip muscles stiffen, resulting in our back muscles being pulled. Our glutes comprise three muscle groups — gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and gluteus minimus. Many Yoga techniques and postures help strengthen these muscle groups. Airplane pose (Dekasana) and Warrior Pose are two such asanas.
- Core: Strengthening your core strengthens your spine. A strong core ensures correct spinal posture. An incorrect posture is the root cause of many aches in your body, especially neck, shoulders, upper back, and lower back. It also ensures full-range mobility. Some yoga asanas that work on your core are boat pose, plank, and side plank.
- Strengthening the oblique muscles: External oblique muscles and internal oblique muscles help form a firm wall along the side of your body. They are a vital component of your core. The obliques help the back hold the proper posture and improve movement. Side plank pose (Vasisthasana) and three-legged downward dog pose (Adho Mukha Svanasana) are two postures that strengthen it.
- Obesity can be another reason for a reduced range of motion, which leads to backache. While it might not be a direct cause of backache, it can indeed aggravate it. With the correct poses, you can reach the right weight for your body measurements. Practicing yoga develops muscle tone and improves metabolism.
Three Simple Yoga Poses for Back Pain Relief. Try now!
We have listed a few yoga asanas for back pain relief above, along with why these work. Understanding the anatomy of the back and the working of yoga on the body helps appreciate the science of yoga. However, if you’d rather just jump straight to the asanas and try the benefits for yourself, this part is for you.
Here are three yoga asanas that are great for the health of your back. We also have the 10 best yoga poses for back pain relief — a must-read, must-try for a fit back.
Remember, yoga is holistic. This means that every single pose or asana impacts, stimulates, tones, and strengthens various body parts. While the following asanas are excellent for the back, they will also do wonders for other organs. Let's quickly give you three simple yoga poses for back pain relief.
Chair Pose or Utkatasana
The chair pose is also known as the lightning bolt pose, which strengthens the vertebral column. It fires core muscles, the pelvis, and the spinal muscles. As you work towards a fitter back, you will acquire firmer thighs, calf, limber ankles, and stabilized knees. It also increases breathing capacity, for it stretches the muscles between the ribs.
How to practice chair pose?
Stand straight with legs hip-width apart. Bend knees. Push hips back and chest forward. Stretch arms above the head in line with the ear. Or simply, imagine sitting on a chair with hands stretched out upwards, touching your ears. Now hold this pose for ten breaths or as long as you can. Release.
Cat and Cow Pose or Chakravakasana
Cat-cow pose is great for the back, posture, and even your core. It stretches the spine, hips, and core muscles. It opens the chest and lungs. It activates the hip flexors, abdominal muscles or core, the trapezius, spinal erectors, and lower back muscles. It also helps relieve menstrual cramps and sciatica. In short, great to keep you in shape and backache at bay. It also calms the mind and relaxes the body since rhythmic breathing is observed while doing it.
How to do cat-cow pose?
Get on your hands and knees in table pose. Keep the spine neutral. Keep inhaling as you begin to get into cow pose by dropping belly, lifting neck and chest to gaze up the roof. Relax your shoulders away from your ears. Now transition into cat pose. Start exhaling as you bring your head down, draw your chin in, round your spine outward, tuck in your tailbone, draw pubic bone forward.
Cobra pose or Bhujangasana
According to B K S Iyengar, the founder of Iyengar Yoga, cobra pose is an effective panacea for an injured spine. He said that it could even undo "slight displacement of spinal discs”. However, before you observe any asanas, you should always check with your doctor first. Cobra pose strengthens the spine or vertebral column and makes it suitably agile. It tones the spinal nerves and the glute muscles. It also stretches the abdomen, thorax, shoulder, and lungs, resulting in improved digestion, liver and kidney functions.
How to observe the cobra pose?
Lie down prone, legs stretched, toes flat, soles facing upwards, heels slightly touching together. Place your hand's palm down on the floor beneath your shoulders. Now, inhale slowly as you lift your head, chest, and abdomen off the floor (but not your naval) while straightening your arms. Relax your shoulders away from your ears, press chess forward. Hold for 4-5 breaths. Now, exhale and lower your chest gradually. Bring back your abdomen, chest, and head back to the floor. Relax here for a few breaths and repeat.
A Word of Caution
Yoga is a great workout and transformative tool. However, if you have any injuries or medical conditions, you must check with a medical professional before starting with yoga asanas.
You must always do yoga under expert supervision. Practicing incorrect yoga asanas can lead to injuries and aches. For instance, incorrectly done asanas can further irritate a tight hamstring. If you have injuries or face discomfort, a trained yoga master will suggest variations and modifications of the asanas and even offer props so that you reap the rewards of yoga practice, despite the medical condition.
Always ensure your yoga guru is a credible master. Or simply sign up for Shvasa’s unique live classes.
Change your life, get a stronger spine!