Those who suffer from back pain understand that there is no quick fix. Whether the pain comes on suddenly or is a routine nagging part of your day, it seems like nothing will make it go away fast enough.
Back pain interferes with your activities of daily living and can make it difficult to put on socks, tie your shoes, sit down in a chair, get out of the car, and lift a box. Twisting the torso seems out of the question and laying down is not always the answer.
Consider yoga. This gentle practice of lengthening, stretching and breathing may be just what your back needs.
1) Yoga is great for those who are looking to start moving but are not ready for the gym
There are multiple videos both for sale and online that can take a newbie from start to finish in the comfort of your own home. Consider a "yoga for beginners" class in your area and learn proper techniques from an expert.
Those who experience back pain may not be able to do high-impact, or go for a run pounding on the pavement, therefore yoga is an easy solution.
2) Yoga helps with flexibility
Often times back pain involves several muscles of the back, buttocks, hamstrings and neck. Stretching and breathing helps those short, tight, contracted muscles to relax but do so in proper form and with a flow to help with pain.
3) Yoga can gently warm up the muscles and improve blood flow
Warmed muscles move easier, and increased circulation helps bring fresh blood into a stagnant painful area. This can also help improve flexibility.
4) Yoga is buildable
People who do not have a lot of flexibility or who do not regularly exercise will find that gentle or back pain specific yoga poses do require proper form but do not require a great deal of athletic ability.
If done regularly, common poses for pain such as Child’s Pose, Downward Dog, Cobra and Warrior II become easier and can lead to greater range of movement in other poses.
5) Yoga can be done almost anywhere and at any time
It often does not require a lot of space and is generally quiet so it will not bother the neighbors for those living in apartment situations.
Someone with back pain might start with five or 10 minutes in the morning when they get out of bed, and again before they retire for the night. Others might do an hour-long class or try an online tutorial during lunch.
Yoga is best done routinely to help prevent back pain.
Before starting any new routine, talk with your health care provider and make sure you are cleared for movement. If you choose to take a class or hire a professionally trained instructor, let them know your back pain history and any diagnoses such as a pinched nerve or bulging disk.
Do not be afraid or intimidated by the advanced yoga moves — you are not looking to join Cirque du Soleil — stick to yoga specific for back pain and begin stretching and make it a part of your routine.
1) Holtzman, S., Beggs, R. (2013). Yoga for chronic low back pain: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. 18(5):267-72. Epub 2013 Jul 26.
2) Stein, K., Weinberg, J., Sherman, K., Saper, R. (2014). Participant Characteristics Associated with Symptomatic Improvement from Yoga for Chronic Low Back Pain. J Yoga Phys Ther. 11;4(1):151.
Reviewed January 13, 2015
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith