By Sangeetha Saran, Bhavan Kumar, and Marie Jerard, E-RYT 500, YACEP
Let’s explore reducing back pain with yoga. We’ll cover some fundamental techniques that target different areas of the spine and provide relief for those who suffer from chronic back pain. Are you tired of waking up with a sore back every morning? Do you spend most of your day sitting at a desk, only to feel achy and uncomfortable by the end? If so, it’s time to start incorporating yoga into your daily routine. Not only can yoga help improve flexibility and strength, but it can also significantly reduce back pain. Let’s explore some key poses that target different areas of the spine and provide relief for those who suffer from chronic back pain.
Introduction to Back Pain
Yoga strengthens and stretches the muscles that support the spine, improves posture and flexibility, and helps promote relaxation.
There are many different types of yoga, so finding a class or routine tailored to your needs is essential. If you have back pain, you may want to try a gentle or restorative yoga class. If you attend a class, ensure your teacher understands you have a pre-existing back condition.
Before starting any new exercise program, check with your doctor or physical therapist to ensure it’s safe.
What Causes Back Pain?
Many things, including muscle strain, poor posture, disc problems, and arthritis, can cause back pain. Luckily, several yoga poses can help alleviate back pain.
One common cause of back pain is muscle strain. This can happen when the muscles in your back are overworked or tight. Yoga can help stretch and lengthen the muscles in your back, relieving muscle strain.
Poor posture is another common cause of back pain. Sitting or standing with poor posture puts unnecessary stress on the muscles and joints. Yoga can help to improve posture by strengthening the muscles in the core and shoulders.
Disc problems, such as herniated discs or degenerative disc disease, can also lead to back pain. These conditions occur when the discs in your spine become damaged or begin to break down. Yoga can help you reduce pressure on your spine’s discs and relieve the pain associated with these conditions.
Finally, arthritis is another common cause of back pain. Arthritis occurs when the cartilage between the joints begins to break down. This can lead to inflammation and pain in the joints. Yoga poses that involve gentle stretching can help reduce inflammation and joint pain for people with arthritis.
Our bodies enjoy the benefits of yoga in several ways, but one of the best benefits is for our backs. Our daily posture takes a toll on our skeletal health. Whether you’re dealing with chronic back pain or feel the tension in your lower back after a long, stressful day, some yoga can help you feel better. How exactly does yoga help the back? The following are some ways a regular yoga practice can relieve you.
Can Yoga Help Me Cope with Back Pain?
If you suffer from back pain, you’re not alone. Yoga can help alleviate back pain by strengthening the muscles that support the spine and improving flexibility.
There are a variety of yoga poses that can help relieve back pain. For example, the Child’s Pose stretches the muscles in the lower back and can help reduce inflammation. The Cobra Pose helps to strengthen the muscles in the upper back.
Yoga is a low-impact exercise that can be done at home with little equipment. However, you must consult your doctor before starting any new exercise routine.
What Does Medical Research Say About Reducing Back Pain with Yoga?
Medical research has shown that yoga can effectively treat chronic back pain. A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that yoga was more effective than standard physical therapy in treating chronic back pain.
Yoga may effectively reduce back pain by increasing flexibility and strengthening the muscles around the spine. Yoga poses that stretch and lengthens the spine can help to relieve pressure on the discs and nerves in the back. Strengthening the muscles around the spine can help to support the spine and reduce back pain.
Why Do Doctors Recommend Yoga for Back Pain?
Many doctors recommend yoga for back pain because it is a low-impact exercise that can help strengthen the muscles around the spine and improve flexibility. Yoga can also help to correct posture and improve alignment. Additionally, deep breathing that is often a part of yoga can help relax the mind and body, reducing stress levels and promoting healing.
NIH Research About Moderate to Severe Chronic Low Back Pain
Chronic low back pain is a common problem affecting millions of Americans. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is the largest public research funder on this condition. Recent NIH-funded studies have found that yoga may effectively treat chronic low back pain.
In one study, people with chronic low back pain who took weekly yoga classes had less pain and disability after 12 weeks than those who did not take yoga classes. Yoga may help to reduce back pain by:
1. Strengthening the muscles that support the spine
2. Improving flexibility
3. Reducing stress and tension
Harvard Medical Research About Yoga for Back Pain
Harvard Medical School research has shown that yoga can effectively treat back pain. In a study of more than 300 people with chronic back pain, those who practiced yoga had significantly less pain and disability than those who did not. Yoga was especially helpful for those with lower back and neck pain.
The researchers concluded that yoga may be a useful adjunct to traditional medical care for back pain.
Easiest Yoga Poses for Back Pain
Many different yoga poses can help reduce back pain. Here are a few of the easiest poses to get you started:
1. Child’s pose is a restful pose that can help to stretch and release the lower back.
2. Cat-cow pose is a gentle spine-strengthening pose that can help reduce lower back stiffness.
3. Downward facing dog is a classic yoga pose that can help to lengthen and stretch the entire back.
4. Cobra pose is a simple backbend that can help to open up the chest and relieve tension in the upper back.
5. Bridge pose is a great way to strengthen the muscles around the spine and alleviate pain in the lower back.
Get a Doctor’s Approval Before Yoga for Back Pain
Before you begin a yoga practice to help with back pain, it’s important to get a doctor’s approval. This is especially true if you have any underlying health conditions that yoga could aggravate.
Your doctor can give you the OK to try yoga and may even have some recommendations for specific poses or sequences that could help with your back pain. If you don’t have a regular doctor, many yogis recommend finding a qualified yoga therapist to work with you one-on-one to design a practice that meets your needs.
Best Times for Yoga Poses
There are certain times of day when your body is more primed for certain yoga poses. For example, morning is generally the best time for sun salutations and other energizing poses to start your day. Late afternoon or early evening is a good time for restorative yoga or gentle yoga to help you wind down from your day. Whenever you do yoga, listen to your body and do what feels best for you in the moment.
Holding yoga poses forces you to engage those muscles, strengthening them. Almost every yoga pose involves the back muscles, so yoga is a great way to strengthen the back muscles and protect the spine.
Furthermore, the movements of yoga are gentle, making yoga easy and beneficial even for sufferers of chronic back pain. When your back muscles are strong, you will have an easier time carrying yourself, maintaining your posture, and reducing future feelings of pain.
Tension in our back muscles can also result in pain and force us to carry around stress, building even more muscle tension. We can stretch, relax, and release most of that tension through regular yoga routines.
As we reduce the pain associated with tension, we also increase our flexibility, which can keep the pain away in the future.
Alignments and Posture
Back pain can occur when an individual has poor posture, or their spine is incorrectly aligned. While trips to a chiropractor can help the individual return the spine to its proper position, those trips can be expensive and sometimes even painful.
Yoga is an excellent and low-cost method to guide the spine back to its position. The individual can feel more comfortable and experience less pain by strengthening the back muscles and stretching the spine.
Understanding the Body
Yoga helps individuals get in touch with their bodies and understand the way the body can move, twist, and turn. If someone is experiencing back pain, it may be because they are trying to move in an unnatural or unhealthy position.
Yoga poses can help you understand how your body should move, which positions feel comfortable, and which motions your body does not identify well with. When you understand the basics of these movements, you’ll know how to carry yourself better each day.
Yoga is trendy because of its ability to help individuals relax. With many exercises or workouts, you leave the gym feeling anxious and tired and may even experience some pain. With yoga, you leave your session feeling relaxed, rejuvenated, and ready to face the day ahead.
If you suffer from back pain, you know how difficult it is to relax. No matter the severity of your pain, it is always in the back of your mind. Consistent yoga routines can help you to reduce stress, relax, and take your mind off the pain.
Back pain can be debilitating. Yoga can help reduce pain and get you back on your feet.
How Yoga Can Help Reduce Back Pain
If you suffer from back pain, you’re not alone. In fact, according to the American Chiropractic Association, approximately 31 million Americans experience lower back pain at any given time.
While there are many possible causes of back pain – such as muscle strain, herniated discs, and degenerative disc disease – the good news is that yoga can help.
Yoga is a low-impact exercise that can help strengthen the muscles that support the spine and improve flexibility. This can help to reduce the strain on the spine and alleviate pain.
In addition, yoga can help to improve your posture and promote proper alignment. This can also help to reduce stress on the spine and relieve pain.
Yoga may be just what you need if you’re looking for a natural way to reduce back pain.
Different Yoga Poses for Reducing Back Pain
1. Child’s Pose: This is a resting pose that can help to lengthen the spine and release tension from the back.
2. Cat-Cow Pose: This pose helps stretch and strengthen the back muscles while increasing flexibility.
3. Downward Facing Dog Pose: This pose can help to relieve tension in the lower back while also strengthening the muscles.
4. Cobra Pose: This pose helps open the chest and shoulders while stretching the back muscles.
5. Camel Pose: This pose helps stretch the front body deeply while opening up the hips and groin area.
When Could Yoga Be Bad for Back Pain?
The answer to this question depends on the individual’s back pain. For some people, yoga may help relieve back pain. However, for others, yoga may aggravate back pain. The key is to listen to your body and not push yourself too hard.
If you have acute back pain, it’s a stressful time. Therefore, avoiding any physical activity, including yoga, is best until the pain subsides. If you have chronic back pain, yoga may help, but talk with your doctor first and start with gentle poses. Avoid any pose that puts strain on your back or causes pain.
Safest Yoga Postures for Back Pain
If you suffer from back pain, yoga may be a helpful way to reduce your symptoms. However, not all yoga postures are beneficial for back pain sufferers.
One of the best yoga postures for back pain relief is Child’s Pose. This posture gently stretches the lower back and can help to ease pain in the spine. Another good posture for back pain is Cat-Cow Pose. This pose helps to stretch and strengthen the spine, which can lead to reduced back pain.
If you have back pain, it is essential to consult with your doctor or physiotherapist before starting a yoga practice. They can help you choose the best exercises for your condition and ensure you do them safely.
Yoga Prevention Program for Back Care
Yoga is an excellent way to prevent back problems. A yoga prevention program for back care can help to strengthen the muscles that support the spine, improve flexibility and range of motion in the spine, and help to release tension in the muscles and connective tissue. This can help reduce the risk of developing back pain or other issues.
Why Do Chiropractors Recommend Yoga?
Chiropractors often recommend yoga to their patients to help reduce back pain. Yoga can help strengthen the muscles and improve flexibility, which can help alleviate back pain. Additionally, yoga can help to improve posture and increase blood flow to the spine, which can also help to reduce back pain. Yoga is more than an exercise, because it addresses your health thoroughly.
Breathing Exercises for Back Pain
When it comes to managing back pain, yoga may provide some relief. A 2015 review of studies found that yoga can help reduce pain and improve function in people with chronic back pain.
One way yoga may help is by improving your breathing. When you have back pain, you may tend to hold your breath or take shallow breaths. This can make your pain worse.
Breathing exercises can help you take deeper breaths and ease your back pain and are calming. Here are a few to try:
1. Seated Breath: Sit in a comfortable position and close your eyes. Place one hand on your stomach and the other on your chest. Slowly and gently inhale through the nose, letting your stomach expand first, then your chest. Exhale slowly through your nose by drawing your stomach in as you do so. Repeat 10 times.
2. Breathe thyme oil: Inhale deeply the aroma of thyme oil for several minutes daily as needed for relaxation from back pain . Add a drop or two of the oil to a cotton ball and inhale its fragrance when needed throughout the day . You can also add a few drops of thyme oil to a diffuser and inhale its vapors whenever you need to relax .
3. Cat-Cow Pose: Start on all fours with your hands under your shoulders and knees under hips. As you inhale, arch your spine upward into cow pose, allowing your belly to sink toward the floor. As you exhale you want to round off into cat pose. You’ll want to focus on gentle movement back and forth as you create a calming spinal wave.
Practicing yoga regularly has been scientifically proven to help alleviate back pain. It can be done in the comfort of your own home and without spending a lot of money on expensive equipment or visits to the gym. With a few simple poses and stretches, you can reduce your back pain by targeting areas that may cause tightness or discomfort. So if you’re looking for an easy and effective way to combat those aches, pains, and stiffness – practice yoga.
© Copyright – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
Click here to see our online chair Yoga teacher training course.
Are you an experienced teacher looking for YACEP credits or continuing education?
We have an chair Yoga certification add-on course.
by Leslie Kaminoff and Amy Matthews
52 Essential Principles of Yoga Philosophy to Deepen your Practice
by Rina Jakubowicz.
A Relaxing Way to De-stress, Re-energize, and Find Balance
by: Gail Boorstein Grossman.
by B.K.S. Iyengar
By Mark Stephens
Andersson GB. Epidemiological features of chronic low-back pain. Lancet. 1999;354:581–585.
Axen I, Leboeuf-Yde C. Trajectories of low back pain. Best Pract Res Clin Rheumatol. 2013;27:601–612.
Chou R, Qaseem A, Snow V, Casey D, Cross JT, Jr, et al. Diagnosis and treatment of low back pain: a joint clinical practice guideline from the American College of Physicians and the American Pain Society. Ann Intern Med. 2007;147:478–491.
Crown S. Psychological aspects of low back pain. Rheumatol Rehabil. 1978;17:114–124.
Currie SR, Wang J. Chronic back pain and major depression in the general Canadian population. Pain. 2004;107:54–60.
Deyo RA, Weinstein JN. Low back pain. N Engl J Med. 2001;344:363–370.
Deyo RA, Mirza SK, Martin BI. Back pain prevalence and visit rates: estimates from U.S. national surveys, 2002. Spine (Phila Pa 1976) 2006;31:2724–2727.
Groessl EJ, Weingart KR, Aschbacher K, Pada L, Baxi S. Yoga for veterans with chronic low-back pain. J Altern Complement Med. 2008;14:1123–1129.
Hicks GS, Duddleston DN, Russell LD, Holman HE, Shepherd JM, et al. Low back pain. Am J Med Sci. 2002;324:207–211.
Hill C. Is yoga an effective treatment in the management of patients with chronic low back pain compared with other care modalities ‐ a systematic review. Journal of Complementary & Integrative Medicine 2013;10(1):211‐9.
Holtzman S, Beggs RT. Yoga for chronic low back pain: a meta‐analysis of randomized controlled trials. Pain Research & Management 2013;18(5):267‐72.
Hoy D, Bain C, Williams G, March L, Brooks P, Blyth F, et al. A systematic review of the global prevalence of low back pain. Arthritis and Rheumatism 2012;64(6):2028‐37.
Jain R. Pain and the brain: lower back pain. J Clin Psychiatry. 2009;70:e41.
Koes BW, Tulder MW, Thomas S. Diagnosis and treatment of low back pain. BMJ (Clinical Research Ed.) 2006;332(7555):1430‐4.
Kosinski MR, Schein JR, Vallow SM, Ascher S, Harte C, et al. An observational study of health-related quality of life and pain outcomes in chronic low back pain patients treated with fentanyl transdermal system. Curr Med Res Opin. 2005;21:849–862.
Lawrence RC, Felson DT, Helmick CG, Arnold LM, Choi H, Deyo RA, et al. Estimates of the prevalence of arthritis and other rheumatic conditions in the United States. Part II. Arthritis and Rheumatism 2008;58(1):26‐35.
Latimer J, Maher CG, Refshauge K, Colaco I. The reliability and validity of the Biering-Sorensen test in asymptomatic subjects and subjects reporting current or previous nonspecific low back pain. Spine (Phila Pa 1976) 1999;24:2085–2089.
Stiles M. Structural yoga therapy: adapting to the individual. Samuel Weiser; York Beach, ME: 2000.
Sullivan MJ, Reesor K, Mikail S, Fisher R. The treatment of depression in chronic low back pain: review and recommendations. Pain. 1992;50:5–13.
Tekur P, Singphow C, Nagendra HR, Raghuram N. Effect of short-term intensive yoga program on pain, functional disability and spinal flexibility in chronic low back pain: a randomized control study. J Altern Complement Med. 2008;14:637–644.
van Tulder M, Becker A, Bekkering T, Breen A, del Real MT, et al. Chapter 3. European guidelines for the management of acute nonspecific low back pain in primary care. Eur Spine J. 2006;15(Suppl 2):S169–S191.
Waddell G, Burton AK. Occupational health guidelines for the management of low back pain at work: evidence review. Occup Med (Lond) 2001;51:124–135.
Williams K, Abildso C, Steinberg L, Doyle E, Epstein B, et al. Evaluation of the effectiveness and efficacy of Iyengar yoga therapy on chronic low back pain. Spine (Phila Pa 1976) 2009;34:2066–2076.