Exercise is probably the best thing that you can do if you are experiencing mild back pain. Even something as easy as going for a walk in your neighborhood can help you get rid of mild back pain. But did you know that a variety of sports and activities can do the same? Can yoga help back pain? That’s the question that we’ll answer in this article.
Read on for more information on the right poses, the right equipment, and how to avoid getting injured.
Before joining a yoga program, you should have a talk with your physician. This can help you understand what you are supposed to do and how you can go about things. A doctor can recommend against certain types of exercises that could worsen your pain.
Some poses can put you at a high risk of doing more bad than good. This is even truer if you already suffer from certain conditions such as a herniated disc or a spinal fracture.
If you get the green light from your doctor, you should then talk with your yoga instructor. As you can imagine, not all people who experience back aches have the same type of pain. Back pain can vary from one person to the next in terms of location and intensity. Plus, not everyone has the same physical limitations when it comes to exercise.
These days, there are two ways to practice yoga — at home or at a studio. There are many yoga exercises for lower back pain relief that you can do in the comfort of your own home. However, if you have no experience, you’ll have to use technology to your advantage. Seek out the assistance of a yoga instructor online, through a video call.
5 of the Best Yoga Poses for Back Pain
This is perhaps one of the best-known yoga poses in the world. It’s an excellent body stretch that targets mostly the back extensors. These are the muscles that form your lower back and that offer support to your spine. They are responsible for you being able to lift things, but also just stand.
If you are experiencing back pain, you have to be a little more gentle. Start on your hands and knees, but press back gradually. Slowly raise your knees from the floor so that your tailbone is oriented toward the ceiling. You can hold the pose for five breaths or try ten, if you are feeling up for it.
Downward-Facing Dog pose gives an excellent body stretch that targets mostly the back extensors.
Although it doesn’t seem to be the most challenging pose of all, this one is great for relaxing at the end of a hard day. Child’s Pose effectively stretches and elongates your back without you having to go into an uncomfortable or unstable position.
Stretch your arms in front of you, sit back on your bottom, and then rest it above your heels. You can hold the position for five to ten breaths. Repeating it is a good idea if you are looking to get pain relief, but also a little exercise.
Hold this position for 5 – 10 breaths to get pain relief.
Cat and Cow Pose
If you generally have problems with keeping your balance, Cat and Cow Pose might be the right one to try. Get on your hands and knees and place your wrists under your shoulders. Your knees have to be right under your hips. Moreover, the distance between your knees and shins should be that of the width of your hip.
Drop your belly toward the mat and then lift your chest and chin and look at the ceiling. This could be challenging if you are experiencing back pain, so make sure to avoid over-exerting yourself. Stretch your neck as much as you can, but don’t overdo it.
Draw your shoulders from your ears. Then, move into Cat Pose by drawing your belly to your spine and rounding your back toward the sky. Let the crown of your head move toward the floor without forcing your chin to your chest. Inhale, return to Cow Pose, and then exhale and return to Cat Pose. Repeat at least five times.
This one is excellent for straightening your legs and back. But did you know that it can also lengthen the muscles on the sides of your body? Triangle Pose elongates the muscles located in your outer hip.
You can start at the top of your mat with your feet hip-distance apart from each other. Your arms should be at your sides. Step your feet up to 4 to 5 feet apart from each other. Then turn your right foot at a 90-degree angle so that your toes point to the top of the mat.
Move your left foot inwards so that your back toes end up in a 45-degree angle. Raise your arms to the height of your shoulders. Exhale and reach through your right hand in the same direction of your right foot. Draw your thigh muscles upward to deepen the crease in your hip. Maintain the position for at least five breaths.
Triangle Pose can also lengthen the muscles on the sides of your body.
Also known as Vrksansana, Tree Pose is one of the first that yoga practitioners will learn. It seems to be one of the simplest ones, but it can be challenging. Not everyone can stand on one leg as easily.
Tree Pose is capable of strengthening your core and legs. It also opens up your hips, stretches your groin muscles, and extends your inner thighs. Besides, it’s great for people who have a problem maintaining their balance. It can also provide back pain relief by extending your spine and re-positioning it correctly.
To do this pose, stand straight with a tall and long back. Your feet should be aligned and touching, and your arms straight along each side of your body. Focus your attention on an object or place in the room.
Then, shift your weight to your left leg and start raising your right foot off the floor. Proceed by aligning the sole of your right foot with the inner side of your left thigh. Keep your pelvis straight and your toes pointing down. Stretch your arms toward the ceiling. Keep your palms pressed together so that they form an inverted V. Repeat five to ten times changing legs.
Yoga and Back Pain – What Equipment Do You Need?
This is a rather tricky question to answer mostly because not all people have the same needs. As such, they don’t need the same equipment.
If you don’t want to invest in too much equipment, you can always get a comfortable yoga mat. You will have to commit to a routine, though, since you will be using your own body to relieve your back pain.
A yoga chair can come in handy, too, especially if you are more experienced. The SISYAMA Yoga Chair Inversion Bench seems like a good choice. Its versatile design allows you to use it anywhere and its rugged construction guarantees durability. Inversion therapy is excellent when it comes to relieving back pain. If you really want results, you might have to consider an inversion therapy table or a traction bench.
Not everyone has the same need and so as the equipments to use.
Additionally, a Gaiam Yoga Block can act like a body opener. It can help you stretch and realign your spine, which is helpful and necessary for someone who works in an awkward position all day. If you have pain in your lower back, you can place the block beneath your sacrum or under your lumbar spine. Do you have pain in your cervical area or upper back? If so, you can place a block beneath your shoulder blades and another underneath your head.
With blocks, it’s a good idea to gradually increase their height. This will help you lengthen your spine without the risk of any injury or causing even more pain.
If you aren’t comfortable doing some of the poses that we have described, you can adapt them to your resistance and needs. For example, you can use an Ajna Yoga Bolster for a supported Child’s Pose. In this case, you’ll effectively rest your body on a bolster placed between your legs. This will prevent overstretching and will offer your spine some support without causing any pain.
You can also get a yoga wheel for back pain. We found that the REEHUT Yoga Wheel is comfortable and can fit the curve of your back perfectly. There are several reasons for trying out a yoga wheel. The most important one, though, seems to be that you can stretch your back while doing other activities. You can listen to a podcast, an audiobook, or your favorite music. At the same time, you don’t have to constantly re-adjust your body so as to be in the right pose.
So, can yoga help back pain? It can and it does, in most cases, and you also aren’t going to need a lot of equipment, either. You aren’t going to have to build your own home gym, but you will have to stick to a routine. Otherwise, your back pain will come back and you’ll have to start everything over.
Can Yoga Cause Back Pain?
A discussion with your physician is necessary before you begin doing any yoga stretches for back pain. It’s true that anyone can do yoga no matter their age. It can help with a variety of musculoskeletal conditions and arthritis, but it can also cause back pain.
Yoga stretching for back pain is recommended for people who are looking for ways to exercise and get pain relief. But in many cases, especially if it is done incorrectly, yoga can also reveal a back or neck problem that was lying dormant.
Some poses can cause pain. Besides, yoga can cause micro-tears in your muscles, and these will cause pain if you are out of shape. Commitment is important, but so is not overdoing it.
If your yoga session has caused you pain, let it rest and observe the pain. Your body needs a little time to heal, so try to avoid any other type of exercise for two days. If your pain continues after this time span, get in touch with your physician. Also, nerve-related symptoms can be worrying like numbing or tingling, so these can call for medical assistance.
Some poses can cause pain if you are out of shape and overdo it.
Can Yoga Help Back Pain? The Research
Many studies suggest that for about 20% of adults, back pain can become chronic. Some people can experience it for three months, but others can experience it for more than a year. Both yoga and physical therapy can have excellent results for these individuals. It doesn’t even matter how much exercise they get in a day or the types of moves they regularly perform.
However, it would be ideal if you could get a personalized set of yoga poses from an actual instructor. You should explain to them the type of back pain you’re experiencing or what your physician has told you.
A study led by Dr. Robert Saper from the Boston University School of Medicine and Boston Medical Center analyzed 320 diverse adults that were all experiencing moderate to severe low back pain. The research group was split up into three. One third received regular yoga classes. Another received physical therapy visits. The last third were given an educational book, as well as newsletters on treating their low back pain with self-care.
Dr. Saper’s team’s results suggest that people who used yoga to treat their back pain had the same improvements as those that received physical therapy. Some of the patients were even able to finally quit pain-relieving medication thanks to their yoga program.
Some patients are able to quit pain-relieving medication thanks to a yoga program.
If you have been experiencing back pain in your upper or lower back for a while, yoga could be the solution. Safety should always come first, though. Talk to your doctor before enrolling in any yoga program. Make sure that you don’t overexert yourself, especially if you are out of shape.
Create a routine that you can stick to at the daily time of your convenience. Last, but not least, remember that the mental part of yoga is just as important. Be patient and try to relax whenever doing any kind of pose. Enjoy your yoga journey!
Co-founder of MB Zen, digital nomad and freedom seeker. Loves developing projects that improve people’s lives. Functional training, yoga, and healthy eating define his lifestyle since he got his back injured. Fell in love with Yin yoga from the very first session though he won’t say no to any other kind of yoga.