Our Guest Blog Post today comes from Doug Johnson, PA of North American Spine. Doug Johnson helped create North American Spine and manages all medical staff, in addition to training physicians in proper AccuraScope procedure techniques.
Back pain can be a very serious issue, occasionally resulting in the need for surgery. Sometimes back pain is hereditary, while other times it is simply caused by day-to-day living. Whether it’s standing too much, sitting too long or lifting heavy objects, we are all at risk for causing back pain. What you may not realize is that you have the power to help relieve, or possibly even prevent back pain from arising with a few simple yoga positions.
Yoga works by focusing on increasing flexibility, toning muscles and releasing the tension in your body. There are even poses that focus specifically on helping to relieve pain in your lower back! In this post, we focus on five yoga poses that can not only help decrease your lower back pain but may also help tone your muscles and create a leaner frame.
This pose is great for releasing the tension in your lower back and helping your balance and ab (core) strength.
Start by lying on your back with your knees bent, feet together. Draw your knees into your chest, extending your arms out in a “T” shape. Take a deep inhale, then as you exhale lower your knees to the left. It’s important to keep both of your shoulders on the ground to support your lower back. If your shoulders start to come up, bring your knees back up to center and lower your feet closer to the ground. Then, try again. You want to find a good balance between having your knees close to your chest and keeping your shoulders on the ground as you twist. Once you find that balance, hold the position for 60 seconds, breathing deep into your lower back. Repeat five times, switching sides every minute.
Fist Forward Bend
When done correctly, you can stretch your spine and release the pressure in your lower back caused by standing up.
Standing tall with your feet hip-distance apart, bend your knees and release your upper body over your legs. Move your neck from side to side and up and down to ensure there is no tension there. Your head should just hang naturally. Cross your arms and place your fists on the insides of your elbows, allowing that weight to pull you over more. Your goal should be to bend until your stomach touches your thighs, but don’t force it. Allow each inhale to flow into your lower back and hips, and with each exhale try to stretch a bit further. If your legs start to shake, bend your knees a bit more.
Hold this stretch for 30 seconds, then slowly stand up straight.
Thread the Needle
This is a great double stretch for your hips and lower back.
Lying on your back with your knees bent and feet hip-distance apart, cross your left leg over your right knee, placing your left outer ankle on your right thigh. Lift your right leg into the air flexing your right foot and keeping your knee bent at a 90* angle. Lightly hold on to your right thigh, but do not lift your upper body to do so. You should feel the stretch in your lower back, hips and thighs. Hold this position for 20-30 seconds, releasing tension with every inhale and drawing your legs in closer with every exhale.
Start with your hands and knees on the ground, keeping your knees hip-distance apart and toes curled under. Look down at your position and make sure your thighs are going straight down from your hips. You may be surprised by how close your hips really are to each other. You won’t be in this position long, but if you need to place a rolled towel under your knees for support, you may do so. With a straight back and abs pulled in toward the spine, straighten your legs and raise your rear into the air. Your heels don’t have to touch the floor, but you should form a perfect upside-down “V”. Make sure your abs are pulling into your spine and that your lower back isn’t arching, as this can actually cause more harm than good. You may need to draw your upper body closer to your legs, keeping your hands firmly in place in order to correct any arching. Bring your attention to your neck and head, and make sure they are coming straight off of your spine.
Hold this pose for 10-20 seconds, feeling the stretch in the backs of your legs, your hips, lower back and shoulders.
One of the best ways to start and end any yoga position is child’s pose. This releases the tension in your back and gives you a nice stretch.
Sit on your heels with your knees apart, feet together. You can place a rolled towel under your knees or in between your thighs and calves if this position is uncomfortable. Inhale, and on your exhale bend over so that your head touches the floor. If you cannot get your head to touch the floor, make two fists and put them under your forehead so that you are not holding tension in your back with this stretch. Take 10-20 breaths in this position, then lift up slightly and move your knees so that they are touching. Bend over again and take another 10-20 breaths. Once your head can touch the floor without assistance, play with your arm positions. You can have them stretched out in front of you, or down by your sides.
“If at 25 years old you would have told me that yoga and meditation were going to shape me into who I am as an adult, I would have laughed at you. If at 40 you would have told me that I could have major back surgery later in my life and be able to bounce back from it like I was a 25 year old, I would have scoffed. If seeing is believing, then I don’t need to see anymore to believe.”
By taking 10 minutes out of your day to focus on stretching, you may start to notice a decrease in your lower back pain and an increase in your general flexibility and muscle tone.