In a recent blog post, 9 Yoga Stretches to Help Relieve Hip and Lower Back Pain, the writer said they had been inundated with requests for more poses to ease back pain following a previous posting. This is not surprising considering back problems are a common complaint, high on the list of reasons people visit their doctor.
According to a report on back pain posted in the NY times, 8 out of every 10 people have some type of back ache at some time in their lives. For many people, back problems can be debilitating. NIH reported that they are a major contributor to work absence and the most common cause of work-related disability.
Back problems are especially difficult to treat or cure, so prevention is of paramount importance. Unfortunately, most of us only start thinking about our back once it starts aching, rather than considering how to avoid a potential problem. A good example is Peter Lynch, an athlete who had always considered his back healthy.
He regularly played sports. He commented. “Actually, I was quite proud of how flexible and strong my back was, so I never worried about how I lifted or carried things. One day, I tried to pick up a container and I felt a painful twinge in my lower back. I immediately realized I had screwed up. That happened three years ago and ever since, I’ve had chronic back problems. Some days I don’t have any problems at all, but on other days there’s a subtle pain or discomfort, and still other days, it’s quite painful. I often wish I could go back in time to when my back was completely healthy and strong.”
Heavy lifting isn’t the only preventable cause of back injury. Many people suffer chronic back problems not from overdoing it, but rather from lack of movement.
In the past, people exercised their bodies while they worked—bending, lifting, reaching and stretching virtually all day long. Nowadays we’re a lot more sedentary. Most of us don’t exercise while we work, we’re not walking to the fields, we’re not working in the fields, and we don’t do much manual labor. In fact, many people spend their work days sitting in a chair, collapsing on the couch in front of television as soon as they get home.
A 2006 study showed that sitting in a conventional chair puts pressure on our spine—specifically the disks in the lower spine. Furthermore, when we’re sedentary our abdominal muscles weaken which puts more pressure on our spine.
But sedentary lifestyles aren’t the only culprit. As per WebMD, back pain can be attributed to other life-style factors and habits such as slouching, smoking, and being overweight. Emotions such as stress, anxiety, and depression also play a role.
While certain yoga asanas can help relieve back pain, prevention is worth pounds of cure. This is where following a yoga life-style can be extremely beneficial:
Regular practice of Yoga Asanas
Practicing yoga asanas regularly can help you cultivate a strong, supple, and healthy back. Certain poses such as Sacrum Massage and Lower Body Rock can also help release tension from your back.
Yoga asana practice also makes us more aware of our posture and how we move. This heightened awareness helps us correct our movements or posture, whether it’s the way we lift or carry things, the position in which we sleep, or the way we sit or stand. Overall, we naturally begin to move more wisely and carefully.
Healthy Yoga Diet
A healthy yoga diet combined with regular exercise is the most effective way to maintain a healthy weight and thus reduce your risk for back problems.
Complete Yoga Breathing is very effective as a pain reliever and relaxant. Each time you inhale, the distance between the vertebrae increases slightly, taking a little pressure off the spinal discs. Feel your spine lengthen as you inhale, then feel the tension leaving your back as you exhale. Try to practice this as often as you can.
Yoga Relaxation and Meditation
Stress is at the root of so many ailments, including some types of back pain. Regular practice of yoga relaxation and Yoga Sound Meditation are key components in preventing and relieving stress-induced back pain.
Of course, preventing back pain is only a side benefit of a healthy yoga lifestyle. By making yoga an integral part of your life, you’ll be healthier, more peaceful, and happier!