Yoga to Relieve Chronic Lower Back Pain

Yoga to Relieve Chronic Lower Back Pain

chronic lower back painBy Faye Martins

What can Yoga do for chronic lower back pain? Residents of the developed world are doing plenty of things our ancestors of only a few thousand years ago would never have dreamed of doing. Among other things, the modern world has us sitting far more than our body was designed for. We sit at desks, on couches, sit to drive, and sit to eat. All this sitting has created several health problems unique to modern society.


Modern Lifestyle

People of the modern developed world are fatter than ever, engage in less physical activity than ever before, and, as a result of all this sitting, lack of exercise, and extra weight, they have weaker backs that are much more prone to lower back pain. Chronic lower back pain and recovery from back injuries are some of the top reasons students show up at a yoga class. What kinds of yoga poses are ideal for lower back pain? Here’s a closer look at how yoga can help the lower back.


Understand a Little Anatomy

Between each vertebra of the spine is a spongy cushion known as the disc. Think of the disc as being like a gel pack. Below are three points to consider about pressure during movement.

1.  Apply too much pressure to the disc, and it will rupture.

2. If you apply too much pressure to the front of the disc and it bulges towards the rear.

3. Apply too much pressure to the rear of the disc and it bulges towards the front.


Sources of Pain

Meanwhile, swollen discs can press on a nerve, causing severe pain. Ligaments supporting the spine can be strained, pulled, or can press against a disc. All of these occurrences lead to chronic lower back pain. Chronic lower back pain is a common problem and has many possible causes. Some familiar sources of chronic lower back pain include:

1. Degenerative Disc Disease:

This condition occurs when the discs in your spine begin to degenerate or break down. This can cause pain, as well as stiffness and loss of mobility.

2. Facet Joint Arthritis:

This form of arthritis affects the small joints in your spine, called the facet joints. This can lead to pain, swelling, and stiffness.

3. Spinal Stenosis:

This condition occurs when the spaces in your spine narrow, putting pressure on your spinal cord and nerves. This can cause pain, numbness, and weakness.

Yoga can be an effective way to relieve chronic lower back pain by stretching and strengthening the muscles around the spine. If you have chronic lower back pain, talk with your doctor about whether yoga suits you.


Think About How the Back is Used

In our day and age, most people constantly lean forward. People lean forward to type, eat, pick up a child, do yard work, and even drive. All this repetitive bending forward strains the muscles and discs within the lower back. The back is used in many different ways throughout the day. When sitting, standing, or walking, the back is constantly engaged in supporting the body.

Coping with Pain

Therefore, when the back is in pain, it can make performing these activities very difficult. Yoga can be an effective way to help relieve chronic lower back pain. There are a variety of yoga poses that can help stretch and strengthen the muscles in the back. Additionally, yoga can help improve posture and increase flexibility. Regular practice of yoga can result in significant improvements in back pain.


Muscles and Range of Motion

Furthermore, the repeated motion of leaning forward strains the hamstrings over time. The tighter the hamstrings get, the more the body calls upon, the lower back muscles to control the forward motion. The abs also get a workout when we bend forward; they get stronger while the back becomes flexible. More extended movement, such as using a stability ball for sit-ups, can be very beneficial.


Now, Apply Yoga for Chronic Back Pain

A student’s back can become worse when forward bends are over-emphasized in a yoga class. Instead, help students through poses that stretch their hamstrings and open up their hips. As these muscles relax and strengthen, they will take some pressure off the lower back.


How can Yoga Teachers Help Chronic Back Pain?

Yoga instructors know to design specialized lesson plans. Studios, fitness centers, and schools should have workshops specializing in taking care of the back.  Instructors can guide students through poses that help the strained and tight back to relax. Yoga teachers can design sequences that help to decompress the spine. As instructors, we teach prevention and methods for dealing with pre-existing injuries. Yoga instructors need to contact the corporate sector about improving employee back health.


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Related Research

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