Doing yoga to ease back pain is an all-natural, surgery-free solution you didn't know you needed.
Lower back pain is one of the most common debilitating conditions in modern life. For instance, according to a report published in 2020 by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, one in six Australians had back problems from 2017 to 2018.
If an underlying cause can be found, surgery can sometimes solve the problem. Unfortunately, in most cases, strong painkilling drugs are the only medical solution.
Medication and surgery aren't the only ways to ease back pain, however. Many sufferers find that yoga can help considerably. It can reduce discomfort and increase mobility, greatly improving your quality of life.
Yoga strengthens the lower back
Yoga gives you an opportunity to stretch, strengthen, and loosen the muscles in the body that support the lower back. By increasing the support on your back, you put less strain on the spine. Consequently, there's less chance of nerves being pinched or painfully pressured.
What's more, holding prolonged yoga poses engages multiple muscles throughout the body simultaneously. That increases muscular strength in the legs and abdomen. This, in turn, adds even more support for the spine, reducing the load on your main lower back muscles.
Doing yoga improves breathing and circulation
Controlled breathing is a significant feature of yoga. It helps promote an upright posture, decompressing the lumbar muscles. Deeper breathing also increases the amount of oxygen in your blood. This, then, boosts circulation to energise weary tissues while reducing swelling.
Practicing yoga brings greater alignment
Frequent yoga aligns the shoulders, hips, and head. Their alignment relieves tension on the upper and lower spine. Aside from this, an aligned body also leads to greater awareness and better balance. With better awareness and balance, you reduce your chances of muscles trains and other injuries. In other words, you won't be hurting yourself with jerky movements and torso twists.
Specific yoga exercises ease lower back pain
While yoga, as a while, is helpful for lower back problems, specific exercises have particularly beneficial effects. A few classic positions are the cat and cow, supine twist, pigeon, triangle, and downward-facing dog.
The supine twist and the cat and cow poses both target the back, relieving muscular tension and loosening the spine. The pigeon pose strengthens the pelvic muscles, which are often overlooked contributors to back pain.
On the other hand, the triangle pose is useful as it tones the legs and waist to hone bodily stability. However, this pose should be done only after other poses have strengthened and loosened the lower back. Similarly, the downward dog elongates and aligns the spine, but requires precise execution. You shouldn't attempt it until you're comfortable holding simpler extended poses.
Yoga has specialised techniques for lower back pain
While certain poses are good for reducing back pain through toning and strengthening, there are also specialised techniques which deal directly with back discomfort.
Hatha or traditional yoga can help with meditation and relaxation. Both are invaluable in treating back pain.
A different technique known as Iyengar toga modifies classic movements to create even more effective pain control. Iyengar participants use props to assist in poses where the priority is the body's alignment. You could use belts, pillows, blankets, or other household items. All these can be very useful if your mobility and balance are poor. Iyengar yoga may have lower physical demands. It it still brings the other benefits of classic techniques such as meditation and breathing control.
Although yoga can bring huge benefits to sufferers of back pain, it's important not to take any risks. Before starting out on your yoga journey, speak to your doctor to make sure you won't risk aggravating your condition. Next, consult with a yoga teacher who has experience helping people with back trouble, and who can recommend a safe but effective program.
By taking yoga slowly and carefully, you'll reap the rewards of better mobility and lower pain, while not putting your lumbar region under any extra unnecessary stress.
By the way, we've got three T-shirts in our shop that can get you more excited about doing yoga. Check out this one if you're into mandalas; this one if you enjoy saying "Namaste;" and this one for a more colourful yoga session.
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