To many people, yoga is thought of as an excellent practice for calming the mind and relaxing the soul. But the gentle, easy movements that make up most yoga practices are also perfect for those experiencing back pain. In addition to generally enhancing mobility and flexibility, yoga can provide particular benefit to back pain suffers by:
- helping to stretch and strengthen the muscles of the back
- increasing blood flow to the back muscles and promoting healing
- helping to strengthen the core muscles which support the back
- helping to reduce stress, which can exacerbate feelings of pain
- calming the mind which can have a psychological effect on how pain is managed
If you’re considering beginning to practice, or have recently begun practicing, yoga to help manage your back pain, here are some essential dos and don'ts to keep mind.
DO - Maintain Good Posture:
Try to maintain the natural curve of your back at all times while practicing yoga and avoid slumping. Your head should remain in line with your spine and not tip forwards or backward. Your shoulders should stack neatly over your hips. This will help to keep your body balanced and will protect your back from further strain or injury.
DO - Keep Your Feet Parallel:
Keeping your feet parallel to one another will help to keep your knees, hips, and spine in proper alignment. This will help keep your body stable and balanced. When we stand, whether during yoga or as we move regularly throughout our day, a solid and sturdy foundation allow us to maintain good posture, alignment and will keep our backs straight and well-supported.
DO - Bend Your Knees:
Locking your knees while in any position, whether during yoga or while performing everyday activities, can add undue strain on the body and can lead to the aggravation of an existing injury or even the creation of a new one. Keeping your knees slightly bent at all times adds flexibility to your posture and helps to support the legs, hips, and back.
DO - Focus on Keeping Your Core Tight:
Core strength is one of the most important factors to protecting your back and exacerbating an existing injury. Gently flexing your core while practicing yoga and while moving throughout your day will provide added support to your spine and create even stronger core muscles in the future.
DO - Tell Your Yoga Instructor About Your Injury:
It’s always helpful to let your yoga instructor know, in advance, about any pain or injury that you’re experiencing. If they know what you’re going through, they will be able to provide modifications on poses to reduce any pain or discomfort and can even help identify specific postures that are best for helping to heal your injury.
DON’T - Push Yourself If You Feel Pain:
While some yoga postures are intended to stretch your body in ways that it isn’t used to and while this may even feel uncomfortable, at no point should it be painful. If at any time you feel pain or even extreme discomfort, stop what you are doing and take a break. And when you do start again, start again with a different pose.
DON’T - Perform Any Twisting Poses:
If you suffer from back pain, you should refrain from doing any poses that require you to twist your body from side to side. Twisting poses can put added strain on an already injured back and can cause irritation and even further injury. This type of movement should be avoided until your back injury has completely healed. Only then can these motions be slowly incorporated into your routine to add strength and increase flexibility to your back.
DON’T - Forget to Breathe:
Proper breathing technique is one of the most important aspects of yoga. Not only does focusing on your breath help to slow down your heart rate and reduce stress, but it also helps to increase the oxygenation of your blood, which speeds up healing and recovery. On top of all this, when we focus our concentration on our breath, we spend less time focusing on our pain. This helps to minimize the amount of pain that we actually acknowledge and feel.
DON’T - Forget to Listen to Your Body:
Above all else, don't forget to pay attention to the subtle cues that your body gives you. If you feel uncomfortable, if you pain, or if you’re unable to perform a particular movement, you need to stop. Don’t ever stretch or move your body further than what is comfortable for you.
Yoga is an ancient practice that blends together slow and focused physical movement with deep, calming breathing techniques. While this makes it an excellent technique for relieving stress and clearing the mind, when done right, it’s also an excellent therapeutic technique for reducing and even helping to heal back pain.
If you’re suffering from the debilitating effects of back pain, Physiomed can help. Contact us today and let us show you why, at Physiomed, Healthier Starts Here.