Massage and manipulation can be a relief, but what if these aren’t an option for you? Others may turn to medicine, but not what we want to be using on any kind of regular basis! Yoga is an underrated solution and prevention to common back problems.
Strengthening the spine and core is fundamental to a healthy back. Incorporating some of the exercises I describe below will get you on the right track. (If you already have an injury – then please seek advice from your osteo/chiro first) but prevention is better than cure! Otherwise, allow the practice of yoga asana to unlock the tension in your back.
The following 5 exercises should be done regularly. If you don’t feel you have time, schedule it in to your diary and have your mat already either rolled out or close by.
I am a big fan of Sucirandhrasana/Eye of the Needle Pose.
I use this in the warm up to all my classes as it stretches the hip flexors and in turn the lower back. Often our lower back may be tight because in fact – our hips are tight. Try and keep your shoulders on the floor so you’re not rounding the shoulders. Alternatively, use a strap to wrap under your thigh instead of your hands.
Adho Mukha Savasana/Downward Dog
The quintessential yoga pose – this will stretch your back and relieves back pain. I always invite my students to take a deep bend in their knees and stretch through the spine first – before worrying about trying to get their feet flat on the floor.
Bhujangasana or Cobra Pose
This is a reclining, back-bending pose/asana that will stretch and strengthen the upper part of the back and shoulders. Lift into the pose and hold for 3 inhales and exhales without coming down. If you feel too much tension or pinching then come up into this more softly. (However a gentle ache is usual after working these muscles. At the end I will advise a self massage technique.)
This back strengthening exercise improves posture and counteracts the effects of prolonged sitting and computer work. I use it in most of my classes. This also strengthens the abdominal muscles and the chest which is imperative to help the back. The abs allow your body to transfer any stress through your muscles rather than your spine, which significantly reduces your risk for back pain.
This relaxing pose helps to relieve lower back pain by stretching and stablizing the muscles in the spine. This pose will offer relief but the other strengthening exercises previously mentioned are key to building a stronger back.
If you feel a gentle ache where you have been working the back muscles, then while still lying on your tummy – make fists and gently rub your back with your knuckles.