Yoga Poses for Lower Back Pain
The lumbar region of the spine is an area that becomes sensitive for most of us at some point in our lives. Whether you have to sit or move around a lot during the day, everyone is susceptible to lower back pain. No matter your circumstances, however, one truth holds constant: back pain can seriously affect your quality of life.
Yoga can offer immense pain relief for many different causes of lower back pain. But, your level of response will obviously depend on the nature of your case. You won’t secure the relief that you need from yoga if your lower back pain results from a badly shattered vertebra, for example. That being said, there are many different poses and stretches that can relieve a wide variety of back pain conditions. Speak with your doctor or physical therapist to determine the best exercises for your specific needs.
Common Causes of Lower Back Pain
Here are some common conditions that can be treated through yoga exercises and stretching:
- Muscle Strain/Sprain: One of the most common causes of lower back pain. A strain refers to the tearing of a muscle or a tendon, whereas a sprain refers to the ripping of a ligament.
- Bulging & Ruptured Discs: Everyone experiences some disc deterioration over the course of their lives. In certain cases, this may lead to conditions such as bulging or ruptured discs. Your spinal discs are like tiny cushions in between your vertebrae that act as shock absorbers. When these structures degenerate, they are more likely to bulge or protrude outward from the vertebrae.
- Spinal Osteoarthritis: Another condition that results from wear and tear, except this time it affects the cartilage located between the spine’s joints. As the cartilage erodes, the joints begin to grind against one another, causing pain.
- Sciatica: This occurs when a herniated disc or bone spur results in the pinching of the sciatic nerve. Because the sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in the body, compression of this structure may lead to widespread pain that extends all the way down to the feet and toes.
- Spondylolisthesis/Spondylolysis: Spondylolysis refers to stress fractures to one or more vertebrae of the spine through repetitive activities or motions. On the other hand, when these stress fractures weaken the vertebrae too much, the condition causes the vertebrae to slip out of alignment (a condition known as spondylolisthesis).
- Osteoporosis: This involves the weakening of bones in the spine, making them more prone to compression fractures.
These, of course, are only a few examples of the most common conditions that yoga can relieve. Obviously, the actual list of conditions extends for much longer, but it’s a starting point, to say the least.
If done properly, twisting the spine offers a great amount of tension relief for the entire back as well as the neck. As an additional upside, you also get to lay down, relax, and let gravity help you.
To start, lay down on your back while bringing your arms to a T-shape on the floor. Meanwhile, bring your knees toward your chest. Next, slowly lower both knees to the left while keeping the neck in a neutral position.
You’re going to want to try to keep both shoulders on the floor throughout this process. If your top knee lifts too much, you may want to try placing a block or a bolster between the knees. You should aim to hold this position anywhere between 1-4 minutes (for whichever you are the most comfortable). Once you are done with the exercise, repeat it again but on the opposite side of the body.
This pose is great for toning the lumbar muscles and stimulating the arch in the sacral-lumbar region of the spine. When we sit for prolonged periods of time, the lower back tends to flatten, which can result in pain. Luckily, we are able to counteract this problem with the sphinx pose, which, in contrast, promotes the natural curvature of the lumbar spine.
To start, begin by laying on your stomach with your feet hip-width apart. Make sure to bring the elbows underneath the shoulders. If there is too much pressure on your lower back during this step, try bringing your elbows slightly forward until you are comfortable.
However, if you require additional support, you can place a block underneath your elbows. Try to hold this pose for 1-3 minutes. Then, come out by first lowering your upper body onto the floor. Make sure to relax on the floor for as long as you need, and finish with a child’s pose for the last few breaths.
Cat & Cow Pose
This simple stretch allows you to work the hips as well as the entire spine.
First, begin on your hands and knees. Next, inhale and lift your chest and tailbone toward the ceiling. To continue, exhale and arch your back while simultaneously pressing through the shoulder blades and dropping your head.
Continue the exercise by following the natural rhythm of your breath. Be aware of muscle tension in your lower back and make any minor adjustments as necessary. Perform this exercise for a slow round of 6-8 repetitions.
Downward Facing Dog
This is an excellent pose for lengthening and decompressing the entire spine. And, in addition, this pose also stretches the hamstrings, which may prove to be useful for patients with lower back problems.
First, begin on your hands and knees. Then, tuck your toes under and rise to the downward facing dog position. You are going to want to start with your knees bent, back straight, and tailbone pointing toward the ceiling. Slowly straighten out and stretch each leg one at a time while bringing the heels closer to the floor. Draw the shoulder blades toward the spine while simultaneously lowering them and rotating the upper arms outward. Remain in this position for five relaxed breaths.
Because your lower back supports your entire torso, taking care of this region is vitally important. Simple things such as sitting less often, moving more, stretching and strengthening the back will greatly relieve your pain in the long run. That being said, if your pain is chronic or severe, always check with a doctor to make sure that there isn’t a serious underlying issue.
This pose takes the pressure off of the lumbar spine by elongating and aligning your back, which decompresses it and gives you a healthy stretch.
Begin by kneeling on the floor with your knees hip-width apart and your feet together behind you. Make sure to follow this up by taking a deep breath in, and while you exhale, position your torso over your thighs. Try to lengthen your neck and spine during this time by drawing your ribs away from your tailbone and the crown of your head away from your shoulders. Next, rest your forehead on your mat with your arms extended out in front of you.
Try to hold this position for one to three minutes—whatever feels most comfortable for you.
If you need an exercise regimen, or if yoga poses are not giving you the relief you need, please contact us at (855) 586-2615. Our team of award-winning medical staff is passionate about designing a treatment plan that suits your specific needs. We will work tirelessly to ensure that you will be able to return to performing the tasks you love. Contact our spine doctors today!