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Yoga Exercises for Back Pain

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021), Sep 23, 2013.

  1. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    Yoga exercises for back pain

    I found this online and thought it could be something to consider. Yoga can be hard because if we’re in pain, how can we contort our body into a pretzel? But these exercises look easier.

    I’m not a doctor or physical therapist, just a fellow TMS guy who has tried to find some exercises to strengthen the back. These look good, but be careful about trying them and maybe ask your doctor before you begin.

    Multiple studies have shown the power of the ancient practice of yoga which emphasizes stretching, strength, and flexibility, to relieve back soreness. In fact, several studies have found that yoga can even trump usual care for back pain when it comes to improving back function.

    People who took yoga or stretching classes are twice as likely to cut back on pain medications for their back aches as people who managed symptoms on their own, one University of Washington study found.

    While yoga isn't a good idea if you have severe pain, those with occasional soreness or chronic aches may greatly benefit from certain postures that can help lengthen your spine, stretch and strengthen your muscles, and return your back to its proper alignment, says Everyday Health fitness expert Jennifer Bayliss, ATC, CSCS. (You'll reap these other health perks of yoga too.)

    It's always a good idea to ask your doctor before starting a new fitness regimen, especially if you're prone to pain. Once you get the green light, try these seven soothing poses for back pain. You can do these poses in any order. Gradually increase the intensity by holding them for longer amounts of time.
    Downward-facing Dog

    This classic yoga pose is a great total body stretch that targets back extensors, or the large muscles that help form your lower back, support your spine, and help you stand and lift objects.

    Try it: Start on your hands and knees, with your hands slightly in front of your shoulders. Pressing back, raise your knees away from the floor and lift your tailbone up toward the ceiling. For an added hamstring stretch, gently push your heels toward the floor. Hold the position for 5 to 10 breaths, and repeat the pose five to seven times.
    Child's Pose

    It may look like you’re resting, but child’s pose is an active stretch that helps elongate the back. It’s also a great de-stressor before bed at the end of a long, exhausting day.

    Try it: Start on all fours with your arms stretched out straight in front of you, then sit back so your glutes (butt muscles) come to rest just above — but not touching — your heels. Hold the position for 5 to10 breaths, and repeat as many times as needed for a good, soothing stretch.

    Pigeon Pose

    Pigeon pose, which can be a little challenging for yoga newbies, stretches hip rotators and flexors. It might not seem like the most obvious position to treat a back ache, but tight hips can contribute to lower back pain.

    Try it: Start in downward-facing dog with your feet together. Then draw your left knee forward and turn it out to the left so your left leg is bent and near-perpendicular to your right one; lower both legs to the ground. You can simply keep your back right leg extended straight behind you, or for an added hamstring stretch — seasoned pigeon posers, only! — carefully pull your back foot off the ground and in toward your back. Hold the position for 5 to 10 breaths, then switch to the other side, and repeat as needed.
    Triangle Pose

    Triangle pose is great for strengthening the back and legs and can help lengthen your muscles along the sides of your torso while stretching the muscle fibers along your outer hip (your IT, or iliotibial, band).

    Try it: Start standing straight with your feet together. Next, lunge your left foot back three to four feet, and point your left foot out at a 45-degree angle. Turn your chest to the side and open up the pose by stretching your right arm toward the ground and the left arm toward the ceiling, keeping both your right and left legs straight. You may not be able to touch the ground with your right arm at first, so don’t over-stretch — only bend as far as you can while maintaining a straight back. Hold the position for 5 to 10 breaths, then switch to the other side, and repeat as needed.
    Cat and Cow Pose

    The perfect poses for an achy, sore back, cow and cat stretches loosen back muscles, whether as part of a yoga routine or as a warm-up for another workout.

    Try it: Starting in an all-fours position, move into cat pose by slowly pressing your spine up, arching your back. Hold for a few seconds and then move to cow (pictured at left) by scooping your spine in, pressing your shoulder blades back and lifting your head. Moving back and forth from cat to cow helps move your spine onto a neutral position, relaxing the muscles and easing tension.
    Repeat 10 times, flowing smoothly from cat into cow, and cow back into cat. Repeat the sequence as needed.
    Upward-Facing Dog

    Sometimes called a forward fold, the upward forward bend stretches the hamstrings and back muscles while providing a release for tight, tense shoulders.

    Try it: Stand straight with feet shoulder-width apart, and your knees loose, not locked. While you exhale, hinge at your waist and bend forward, reaching toward the floor. Don’t worry if you can’t reach all the way to the floor at first; just stop wherever your hamstrings feel a comfortable stretch. Repeat the pose five to seven times. On the last bend hold the position for 5 to 10 breaths.

    Cobra works to open up your chest, stretch your abdominal muscles, and engage your back.

    Try it: Start lying flat on the floor with your palms facedown by the middle of your ribs. While drawing your legs together and pressing the tops of your feet into the floor, use the strength of your back, not your hands, to lift your chest off the floor. Leave your legs extended straight out at first. Hold the position for 5 to 10 breaths, and repeat as needed.
  2. Steve Ozanich

    Steve Ozanich TMS Consultant

    Good post Walt, and remember, never do yoga to heal back pain. Do it to for wellness. The pain will subside as a byproduct. You don't need to get into the full positions if you're in pain, for it to work. I do Pranayama.
  3. Tala

    Tala New Member

    Hi, I'm on day 9 of the structured program and am nervous to go back to yoga. I did those poses mentioned above for my back and hip pain. I miss them and the good feelings stretching gave me. Up until I started this Program, I did various stretches for probably close to an hour a day, broken up through the day of course. At what point I wonder will it be safe to go back to yoga? I had lots of rules as to how to safely do the poses which I can not imagine giving up (the rules I mean, how to correctly and safely do the poses). Part if me wonders if I'm ever going to be able to go back to yoga since it was such an important part of how I was dealing with my pain.
    Eric "Herbie" Watson likes this.
  4. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi, Steve. I'll look into Pranayama.

    Have you done the lecture yet?

    Becca is repaginating the book manuscript and doing a fantastic job.
  5. Lily Rose

    Lily Rose Beloved Grand Eagle

    I have been a yoga instructor for 10 years, and it has played a powerful role in my life. It simply .... feels good.

    with grace and gratitude,
  6. LindaRK

    LindaRK Well known member

    Svaroopa yoga is great if you're having any pain ..... it's gentle and non-comforting for the most part. I love it!
  7. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    I will look into Svaroopa yoga this afternoon.
    Steve says not to use any exercise because you want to heal from pain,
    just for general good health, so I will keep that in mind.

    I need to be more constant in adding exercise to my day. I'm almost 84 and in good health but
    feel that old man back and leg trouble I didn't have two years ago.
    Sarno says it's just "gray hairs of the spine."
    A little hunched over but refuse to believe it's from age. Probably some leftover TMS.

    I do some lunges, stair stepping, and sit and get up from a chair 10 times with arms crossed in front of me.
    I need to do more, like tai-chi movements.
  8. Eric "Herbie" Watson

    Eric "Herbie" Watson Beloved Grand Eagle

    Tala why are you afraid to do Yoga now if it has always been beneficial to you? Thanks
    Lily Rose likes this.
  9. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    Tala, I agree with Herbie. Keep up the yoga exercises which are helping you physically and emotionally.
    I don't consider any exercise a crutch, and as Steve says, we should exercise for general health and
    not intending it to help relieve a pain.

    I'd like to know the yoga exercises you consider best for the back and how to do them.
    This would be good to share with others.
    Lily Rose likes this.
  10. Tala

    Tala New Member

    I know this is an older post but I thought I would respond. I felt like I had to stop doing yoga in the past because I could not get past the idea that I was doing it to fix my back and keep my pain away. I am now past that, so can do it for the purpose of general health. I like yoga teachers that focus on alignment markers so that I know when I have reached the limit of a pose for my body. Katy Bowman has a restorative exercise teacher program so I look for teachers who have studied with her. Jennifer Hoffman at healthymovement.com is a good one. She does a free online class every month.
    birdsetfree likes this.

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