Ultimate Guide To Yoga For Back Pain Relief

One of the most common reasons people get into yoga is for back pain relief.

Yoga is a mind-body therapy that can help alleviate spinal discomfort and associated stress.

According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, approximately 80% of people will experience back pain problems at some point in their life [1]

There are so many reasons why people experience back pain. They range from sitting for too long, to having bad posture, to being stressed (which causes us to place tension on the body, including in the spine).

Back pain is associated with numerous health conditions such as arthritis and ruptured discs. And anyone who has experienced prolonged back pain knows that it can massively affect your quality of life.

I personally suffered back pain after a car crash years ago. I was a very active person. I loved working out, I was always travelling (I was working on stage as an actor) and I had a great social life. In the car crash I injured my neck and back and was unable to do the things I love doing. The constant pain really got me down, and I was sick of not being able to do the things I loved to do. I needed a solution.

Back pain treatments come in any forms. You can go to your local chiropractor. You can take pain killers.

I personally think the best back pain treatment is yoga [though if you have serious back pain problems do consult a medical healthcare professional. I am not one. Full disclosure].

Science shows that there are many benefits of yoga for back pain relief.

Benefits of yoga for back pain relief


Research published by the National Institute Of Health [2] shows that we can effectively use yoga for back pain relief.

Studies show that people with mild to moderate-chronic lower back pain can benefit from using specific yoga poses. Practicing yoga can help such people to walk and move with less pain.

Dr. Robert Saper at Boston University School of Medicine and Boston Medical Center studied 320 adults with moderate to severe back pain. The participants were split into three groups. One group was given 12 weeks of yoga classes, another was given an educational book and newsletters about self care for back pain, and the third group was given 15 physical therapy visits over 12 weeks. The participants were given a further 40 weeks of either practicing yoga at home or physical therapy sessions.

All three groups showed improvement, but the yoga and physical therapy groups showed the most improvement. Yoga was as effective as the physical therapy.

Best Types Of Yoga For Bain Pain Relief

There are lots of different types of yoga. And some are better for back pain than others.

When using yoga for back pain, it is important to go slow and gently and to move the body in the proper way (rather than rushing through yoga and making mistakes).

Sasha Cyrelson, P.T., D.P.T., O.C.S., clinical director at Professional Physical Therapy in Sicklerville, New Jersey, says, “Never stretch into a position of pain… If it actually hurts, ease up on the stretch.” [4]. She tells us that it is safe to practice yoga every day provided you do so in a gentle way. She also states that if you experience pain for three days or more you should visit a physical therapist before continuing to do yoga.  If your lower back pain is not a serious condition but rather a case of tension, it is an excellent idea to practice some gentle asanas to relax the back and improve alignment.

Jennifer Bayliss [fitness expert, Williamstown, Massachusetts] tells us that it might not be the best idea to use yoga for chronic back pain, but for most aches and mild discomforts it is a great option.

Here are the types you should try:

Chair yoga:

If you’re worried about potentially worsening your back pain, practice yoga with a chair. Just make sure you do have a suitable chair for yoga.

Iyengar :

Iyengar yoga is a very precise type of yoga that features modifications for people with neck and back problems.

Ashtanga:

Ashtanga is an effective type of yoga for back pain that is mild to moderate. It uses power moves like lunges and can strengthen the spine.

Vini:

Vini-yoga places particular emphasis on breathing and movements are coordinated with inhalations and exhalations. This helps to slow the body and mind and can release muscle tension to reduce back pain.

Yin:

Yin is a very slow type of yoga in which poses are held for a few minutes. This helps us to learn how to move the body, and can be especially beneficial for people with poor posture.

Meditation: As well as using yoga for back pain relief, meditation helps the spine too.

Best Yoga Poses For Back Pain Relief

 The best yoga poses for back pain relief are ones that move the spine in gentle ways, and ones that gently massage the area. Try the following yoga poses to ease back pain.

Downward Dog stretches hamstrings and :  

Back pain can be caused by poor alignment and by tension in the lower back. One great asana to help with this is Downward Dog (Adho mukha svanasana)

The most famous yoga poses is arguably also the best yoga pose for back pain relief.

According to Orthopaedic Exercise Specialist Amber Ash, “Downward Dog offers an opportunity to reverse the forces of gravity that usually act on the spine. The action of the hip joint flexing and folding in the front brings the abdominals in close toward the spine, strengthening them”.

This is a great pose for the back extensors (muscles in the lower back that support the spine).

Upward Dog for abdominal muscles:

As you might expert, “Upward Dog” is basically the inverse of Downward Dog. And it is a very good yoga poses for back pain relief. It helps to gently stretch the spine while also developing back-strength and working the abs.

Triangle pose for torso and hips:

Approximately half of all cases of back pain result from sitting for too long either at work or home. This puts unnatural pressure on the lower spine and can cause severe health problems. Thankfully, yoga can help.

Try Triangle Poses. It’s the in which are legs are in a triangle position and we are stretching to the side with one arm reaching down the front leg, and the other up towards the sky. This gently stretches and relaxes the back to ease spinal discomfort. It is excellent for stretching the muscle fibers along your outer hip (your IT /  iliotibial band).

Legs-up-wall pose for stability 

If you spend too much time on your feet and you find that your back pain gradually develops throughout the day, you might like to try legs-up-wall pose (I wonder why it’s called that…?).

This pose helps to recirculate your blood flow. It is easy to do. Simply lie perpendicular to a wall, place your legs up the wall and relax your arms by your side. Easy.

Child’s Pose elongates the back

Child’s Pose is essentially a restorative pose that we routinely return to when doing yoga. To do this pose you simply sit with your knees on the floor, then bow your head and stretch your arms out in front of you. This gently stretches the back all the way from the pelvis to the neck. It’s literally so easy a child could do it.

Cat / Cow for relaxing the spine

If I had to pick the absolute number one best yoga pose for back pain relief it would definitely be cat / cow. It’s the pose where we are on all fours and gently stretch the back and neck in an arch, up and down. This stretches the back both ways and massages the torso. It is wonderfully relaxing and helps to improve posture.

Conclusion

Always remember that if you are using yoga for back pain relief, you are best to go slowly and cautiously. Although yoga can be very beneficial, it could also worsen your injury if you practice incorrectly.

If you have serious spinal health problems do not practice alone. Always consult a healthcare professional.

I hope you  found this guide helpful. Remember to subscribe, and write a comment below.

 


Paul Harrison

Paul Harrison is a qualified meditation teacher and writer with more than 15 years experience in meditation and mindfulness. He studied meditation in Oxford, UK, and Hamilton Ontario Canada, and earned his degree at Staffordshire University. Paul has helped thousands of people to discover their true potential through mindfulness, yoga and meditation. You can read his books on Amazon

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