Managing Back Pain with Yoga. Does it really work?

Have you noticed that at any age back pain seems to be the ache that keeps you home, with a heating pad, missing life?

I have heard from my friends, countless times, “I threw my back out, I cannot go, I have to rest.” This comes from friends who exercise avidly to ones that don’t exercise at all.  Let’s face it, today’s busy lifestyle puts alot of stress on our bodies.  This lifesyle is manifested for many by suffering from debilitaing back pain. There is no cure for this issue just yet, unless a high dosage of opiods and surgery is what your looking for.  However, most people simply learn to manage their pain better. Today I want to talk about how yoga can help.  Simply put, there is not another lifestyle change that will manage back pain better than yoga.  A regular yoga practice will develop strength, balance and flexibilty.  Yoga not only stabilizes the body but also the mind.  And these are just some of the ways yoga can provide much needed relief to those who suffer from back pain.

Yoga is the only exercise that works with your whole self, and no matter what your physical fitness level is, you can do yoga. I remember when I first started practicing, I wasn’t very flexible. I thought yogis were people who were doing acrobatics and crazy tricks with their bodies. I thought yoga would actually cause back pain. Yoga is nothing like that. Yoga is for everyone, especially those experiencing back pain. Doctors, Chiropractors and Massage Therapists all can offer varying levels of relief for the back pain sufferer, but this just helps with the symptoms of pain. Yoga targets the root of the pain, it is adaptable to a busy lifestyle and you can start with slow movements and beginning poses.

Managing Back Pain with Yoga

Table Top Pose: Neutral Spin alignment. Set up for Cow and Cat pose to follow. All wonderful back pain postures!

Yoga targets the root of the pain, it is adaptable to a busy lifestyle and you can start with slow movements and beginning poses.

A lot of times when we have pain of any sort we refuse to move. We put our feet up and attempt to relax. If you are having intolerable pain please know the worst thing one can do is to stop moving. Clinical practice guidelines from the American College of Physicians (ACP) and the American Pain Society (APS) say that patients with low back pain should be advised to remain active. This is categorized by the ACP and APS as a “strong” recommendation. Do not ignore the signs because you may wind up with a lifetime of issues and a lot of restrictions and orders from the doctor.

Whether you are an athlete or have never exercised in your life, this is your opportunity to start feeling better. When you sit all day, you shorten your hamstring and iliopsoas muscles. Yoga aligns the body to its natural form. We were not meant to go from a chair to a couch. And sitting on that couch in an effort to relax just continues to aggravate that pain.

Managing Back Pain with Yoga

Reverse Warrior: Another pose excellent for strengthing the back muscles.

 

Whether you are an athlete or have never exercised in your life, this is your opportunity to start feeling better.

In addition, if you are an athlete or your job requires physical labor and your back isn’t strong, manual labor will put strain not just on back muscles but also on muscles in your legs and arms, not to mention stress on joints. You are at a high risk for getting hurt. If you develop a regular yoga practice, it reinforces muscles around the spine and the core. We call the center of the body the core because it is the area from where everything else operates. When you have a strong core you are less likely to have pain in your neck, back, and joints.

An elongated spine is another significant element of a yoga practice. Poor posture is a bad habit that many people have. With a regular yoga practice bad habits like slouching will slowly disappear. Slouching not only looks sloppy, but it also causes pain. Strengthened abdominal muscles coupled with strengthened back muscles signficantly reduces stress on your back.

Managing back pain with Yoga

Plank Pose: Build Strength in your Core! Our biggest defense against low back pain.

When you have a strong core you are less likely to have pain in your neck, back, and joints.

Besides the strength that yoga provides, stretching that increases flexibility can reduce the tension in muscles that have been put under stress. Any time you do any movement at all you increase blood flow to the muscles and tissues throughout the body. Any doctor will tell you that the only way to combat pain is to keep the blood flowing.

Another great benefit of developing a regular yoga practice is the increased balance you will gain. Your body will start to find its center of gravity with a little more ease.  We all know how important balance is to professional atheletes, and it is one of the many reasons we see so many pro-atheltes practicing yoga.  Good balance is imperative for everyone, not just professional athletes.  With improved balance your body will naturally compensate for issues or pain you are expierencing in your back.

Improved strength, flexibility and balance will allow your body to protect your back by building  better muscles around the root issue.  For many, this all but eliminates back pain from their day to day life.

Another great benefit of yoga is for the treatment of the mental side of back pain.  Spine-Health (Trusted Information for Back Pain) features Doctors talking about how back pain is typically a psycho-physiological injury.  “This diagnosis means that psychological factors either initiated or are maintaining the back pain, or both. The pain you have is real, but simply put medicine alone cannot cure it.” Stress causes many physical symptoms and back pain is one of them.

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Your back pain may be the best thing to wake you up to a healthy lifestyle.

 

Yoga is the only exercise for your whole self. It creates a balance between the body and the mind and is pro-active in benefitting health. The meditation and relaxation techniques help relieve stress. Gaining breath control may be the biggest benefit of all, especially for one’s mental health. In fact yoga’s primary purpose is to practice breath control, the physical aspects are simply a bonus, and a big bonus at that! Anxiety is a major cause of the stress that brings on back pain, ultimately leading to illnesses. Your back pain may be the best thing to wake you up to a healthy lifestyle. We all talk about self-care with a good meal or retail therapy. Why not actually try something that is long lasting?

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