Lower back pain is one of the most common reasons for visiting the doctor. The lower back is made up of the vertebrae of the spine, ligaments and muscles. Intervertebral discs are found in the spine, which are a sort of cushion made up of cartilage. It fits perfectly between two vertebrae. Any kind of injury or disease of these discs in lower back, muscles and ligaments can cause back pain. The risk of lower back injury is higher in people who are obese, who have a poor posture or weak back and abdominal muscles. Almost everyone will experience lower back pain once in their life time. Due to a poor diet and lack of exercise this risk can increase by the day. Relieving lower back pain with Yoga is the best option.
Causes of Lower Back Pain
There is no particular cause for lower back pain. However, muscle or ligament strain is seen as the most common cause. If you experience back pain suddenly it is a sign of a muscle tear, disc problem or sprained ligament. Many other conditions, like fibromyalgia, osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, spinal stenosis and ankylosing spondylitis can cause back pain. Pregnancy can also lead to back pain (due to extra body weight, muscle and ligament firmness, and compression of spinal nerves). Overweight people are most prone to back pain, because of poor posture and extra strain of the body weight on discs and muscle.
Medical problems, like stomach problems (appendicitis, ulcers) and gall bladder disease can lead to back pain. Back pain can also be caused without any kind of injury. These conditions include pneumonia, kidney infections, infection of the spine and tumors. The pain which is worse in the morning and seems to reduce by movement and stretching is a result of muscle injury. Lower back pain which is worse at night and not relieved by exercise can be a “referred pain” that spreads to the back from other organs. This condition can also be a result of a bone problem. The pain that can be felt all the way down to the back of one or both of your legs is a sign of sciatica. When the sciatic or other spinal nerve is compressed, it will result in increased pain while sneezing, coughing or straining.
Relieving back pain is now much easier with yoga poses. These lower back exercises will help you strengthen your back. They do not just relieve your lower back from pain, but they also help to prevent back pain in future. Whether you are trying to relieve or prevent your lower back from pain, try some great lower back yoga stretches. If you are having severe back ache, consult the doctor before trying these yoga poses.
Yoga Poses for Lower Back Pain
You can comfortably practice these yoga poses every day. Just 10 minutes everyday to stretch your lower back muscles to the maximum will help you to prevent different kinds of problems in future. All these exercises will help you to relieve your lower back pain and prevent you from all kind of spinal disorders. These yoga poses will help to improve your body posture. They will strengthen the abdominal and back muscles. It relieves the back from stiffness and tension.
- Sit in a comfortable position. Try placing a mat on the floor and sit cross legged (you can also sit on your bed, if you like). Your back should be straight and yours shoulders should be relaxed. You need to smile while you practice this yoga pose. In case you would like to practice this pose in standing position, keep your feet parallel.
- While breathing in slowly raise your arms from both the sides. Interlink your fingers together, with your thumbs touching each other gently.
- Now bring your arms from the front to the top. Stretch them up as much as you can. Do notstrain your muscles
- Make sure that your elbows are straight and that your biceps touch your ears. Hold onto to this position for 20 seconds (preferably 3 to 4 long deep breaths).
- To experience a deeper back stretch you can pull your tummy in, close to the spine.
Twist the spine
Ardha Matsyendra Asana or Half Lord of the Fishes pose is a seated twist for the spine.
- From a seated position with your legs extended forward
- Step one foot across your opposite knee
- Bend your bottom leg to tuck your foot near your opposite hip.
- Lengthen your spine upward.
- At your tallest, twist toward your top leg. Hug your front leg or pin your elbow across your thigh.
The rotation of this pose is achieved in the thoracic and cervical spines, as the shape of the lumbar vertebrae allow for limited rotation in order to preserve stability. Begin twisting from behind the bellybutton, and allow the twist to spiral up your spine until at last the head turns with the chin parallel to the floor
Knees to Chest
Apanasana — stretches your back and releases spinal tension.
- Lie on your back with your legs and arms extended.
- Exhale as you draw both knees to your chest.
- Clasp your hands around them. If it is possible, wrap your forearms over your shins and clasp each elbow with the opposite hand. Keep your back flat on the mat.
- Broaden across your collarbones.
- If it is comfortable for you to do so, softly rock backward and forward or side-to-side for a gentle spinal massage.
- Tuck your chin slightly and gaze down the center line of your body.
- Hold for up to one minute. Keep your breath smooth and even.
- Exhaling, release and extend both legs along the floor and rest. Repeat up to six times.
Uttanasana — calms the mind while stretching and rejuvenating the whole body. This pose is an essential element of Sun Salutations and helps to prepare the body for deeper forward bends.
It is commonly referred to as “Standing Forward Fold” or “Forward Bend” When practiced correctly, this pose is an intense stretch, particularly for the hamstrings and back. However, it should also be relaxing and comfortable — be careful not to push too hard, seeking an “intense” experience! The more you relax in this pose, the deeper your stretch will be.
- Begin with your hands on your hips.
- Exhale as you bend forward at the hips, lengthening the front of your torso.
- Bend your elbows and hold on to each elbow with the opposite hand. Let the crown of your head hang down. Press your heels into the floor as you lift your sit bones toward the ceiling. Turn the tops of your thighs slightly inward. Do not lock your knees.
- If you can keep the front of your torso long and your knees straight, place your palms or fingertips on the floor beside your feet. Bring your fingertips in line with your toes and press your palms on the mat. Those with more flexibility can place their palms on the backs of their ankles.
- Slightly lift and lengthen your torso with each inhalation. Release deeper into the pose with each exhalation. Let your head hang.
- Hold the pose for up to one minute. To release, place your hands on your hips. Keep your back flat as you inhale and return to standing upright. Repeat 5-10 times.
Modifications: Take it slowly and be careful not to push yourself in this pose. Try these changes to find a variation of the pose that works for you:
- If your hamstrings or low back are tight, bend your knees. Let your belly come to your thighs. Keep the front of your torso long and make sure you are folding at the hips, not at the waist. If your back is rounding, bend your knees even deeper. Rest your fingertips on the mat. Then, work on straightening your legs by pressing the front of your thighs back as you press your heels down.
- If you’re having trouble balancing, stand with your feet hip-distance apart or wider.
- Women who are pregnant should stand with their feet as wide as necessary to feel stable. Only fold forward as deeply as it is comfortable for your stage in pregnancy, and be careful not to compress the belly.
- To deepen the stretch at the back of the legs, elevate the balls of your feet by placing them on your folded mat, towel, or firm blanket.
Adho Mukha Svanasana — is a standing pose and mild inversion that builds strength while stretching the whole body. It’s named after the way dogs naturally stretch their entire bodies!
CAUTION: Do not practice Downward-Facing Dog if you have severe carpal tunnel syndrome or are in late-term pregnancy. It should also be avoided by those with injury to the back, arms, or shoulders; and by those with high blood pressure, eye or inner ear infections. Always work within your own range of limits and abilities. If you have any medical concerns, talk with your doctor before practicing yoga.
- Begin on your hands and knees. Align your wrists directly under your shoulders and your knees directly under your hips.
- Spread your fingers wide and press firmly through your palms and knuckles. Distribute your weight evenly across your hands.
- Exhale as you tuck your toes and lift your knees off the floor. Reach your pelvis up toward the ceiling, then back toward the wall behind you. Gently begin to straighten your legs, but do not lock your knees. Bring your body into the shape of an “A.” Imagine your hips and thighs being pulled backwards from the top of your thighs. Do not walk your feet closer to your hands — keep the extension of your whole body.
- Press the floor away from you as you lift through your pelvis. As you lengthen your spine, lift your sit bones up toward the ceiling. Now press down equally through your heels and the palms of your hands.
- Draw your chest toward your thighs as you continue to press the mat away from you, lengthening and decompressing your spine.
- Sink your heels toward the floor.
- Align your ears with your upper arms. Relax your head, but do not let it dangle. Gaze between your legs or toward your navel.
- Hold for 5-100 breaths.
- To release, exhale as you gently bend your knees and come back to your hands and knees
Balasana — is a common beginner’s yoga pose. Child’s Pose helps to stretch the hips, thighs, and ankles while reducing stress and fatigue. It gently relaxes the muscles on the front of the body while softly and passively stretching the muscles of the back torso.
- Begin on your hands and knees.
- Spread your knees wide apart while keeping your big toes touching. Rest your buttocks on your heels.
- Those with very tight hips can keep their knees and thighs together.
- Sit up straight and lengthen your spine up through the crown of your head.
- On an exhalation, bow forward, draping your torso between your thighs. Your heart and chest should rest between or on top of your thighs. Allow your forehead to come to the floor.
- Keep your arms long and extended, palms facing down. Press back slightly with your hands to keep your buttocks in contact with your heels. Lengthen from your hips to your armpits, and then extend even further through your fingertips.
- For deeper relaxation, bring your arms back to rest alongside your thighs with your palms facing up. Completely relax your elbows.
- Let your upper back broaden. Soften and relax your lower back. Allow all tension in your shoulders, arms, and neck to drain away.
- Hold for up to a minute or longer, breathing softly.
- To release the pose, gently use your hands to walk your torso upright to sit back on your heels.
Modifications to feel comfortable:
- If you have difficulty resting your buttocks on your heels, place a thickly folded blanket between the backs of your thighs and your calves.
- Spreading the knees wider apart can create a deeper stretch in the hips. Only spread your knees as wide as is comfortable for you — do not strain or force your body to extend deeper in this pose.
Tips for Lower Back Pain
- Don’t strain your lower back by sitting in wrong posture
- Don’t over do ab workouts. When you work your core muscles too much it usually results in lower back pain
- Breathe slowly through out these yoga poses
- Avoid any kind of stressful weight lifting.
These yoga poses will help to relieve your lower back from pain and warm up your body. They will also make your back flexible and open the lungs for a better breathing experience. Take a slight break between each yoga pose to release any kind of muscle tension. Relieve yourself from pain with these lower back pain yoga poses.
Credits: Yoga Outlet, Yoga Life Journey, The Fit Indian