Nothing can be more debilitating than back pain. Regardless of the cause, back pain is something that effects millions of people, and requires tons of pain-killers to be prescribed annually, and as we all know, pain-killers in and of themselves are dangerous.
Our livers don’t appreciate the build-up of toxins that often result from excessive use of pain killers, but what other options do sufferers of back pain have? Well, yoga could be the cure they’re looking for.
Yoga is truly a masterful science of the body. We are used to seeing but a handful of poses, or asanas, but the ancients developed thousands of bodily movements and stretches, all designed to gain mastery of the body, as well as to heal it.
Chronic pain is often caused by years and years of unnatural bodily movement or usage. Sitting in rigid chairs, lack of stretching, obesity, poor posture, too much stress, weak bones, and other factors can all lead to back pain.
However, yoga has an amazing track record of mitigating and even curing back pain. One of the primary reasons back pain develops in the first place is lack of muscular usage. The body literally gets tied up in knots as our muscles are strained and stressed in only certain, rigid directions. Over time, the body, having undergone positions and situations it was never naturally supposed to endure, finally twists the wrong way, or something gives, and it sends bundles of nerves in the back into a frenzy. Back muscles, all knotted out of shape, can cause extreme distress. Bone pain, which is often another cause of back pain, arises in a similar fashion.
We place too much unnatural stress on our spines, especially in the lower regions, which eventually causes the literally misalignment of the spine, or pinched nerves.
Regardless of the why, we can be sure that there are ways to naturally heal the body and reverse these unnatural states of pain and suffering. Pills, especially ones full of powerful chemicals, are not the only answer. Nor should costly, dangerous operations be your first choice. The natural healing power of yoga can, with patience, reverse these painful conditions without any need for medication.
Yoga Routine That Naturally Relieves Back Pain
This might be a well known yoga pose, but it’s well known for a reason! Many lower-back issues can be traced to inflexible hamstrings (and surrounding muscles). It’s crucial for your body to function correctly that you stretch this important part of your body.
Years of stiffness in the area of the lower back, buttocks, and thighs causes muscles to tense and lock up, and once they begin to deteriorate, the lower back region can no longer support the flexible movements of the spine and the weight of the torso without undue strain and stress.
Such a simple yoga asana, but a crucial one. Ever wonder why the child’s pose is incorporated into dozens of popular yoga routines? Because it’s powerful and effective! Done properly, this asana stretches and relaxes the spine, as well as calming the entire body.
The spine is such an important part of our body yet gets ignored in almost all typical exercise routines. The stress of daily life, as well as carrying our body around for decades, takes its toll on the spine. It needs all the attention we can give it.
This pose can be easily entered into right from Downward-Facing Dog, for a seamless stretch that will unknot the lower-back and let your spine rejuvenate.
This elegant asana would appear at first to be a simple leg stretch from an untrained eye, but there is a lot going on in the hips and lower back that makes this pose ideal for healing back issues. Much of our lower-back stress comes from unopened hips, which in turn forces more stress on our spines when we walk.
Unopened hips also mean the muscles in our lower-trunk region are knotted and stiff. By opening this region up, the lower back doesn’t have to pull as much of the body’s weight, and its muscles can stretch more freely. This is another pose that can be entered into through downward-facing dog or the child’s pose, which means it can be easily adapted for many yoga routines.
Even though this asana requires a bit more “work,” it is a deep stretch that should be performed regularly for optimal back health. By side-stretching, the abdominal muscles, lower-back muscles, and general core elements all get worked on, allowing for greater flexibility and range of movement.
This loosens the spine and strengthens the abs, extremely important factors in making sure the lower-back is able to heal. Without a strong core, the lower areas of the spine are stuck doing all the work, and this is how discs get jammed and nerves get pinched.
A great workout routine for those who want to preempt back pain, would be crunches followed by the triangle pose. The two exercises compliment each other well. If you already suffer from back pain and the thought of doing crunches makes you cringe, stick first to simple, gentle stretches. While performing the triangle pose, do not over-extend your muscles. Just allow your core to stretch and loosen, and in a matter of weeks the area will be toned enough to where it will begin to take the load off of your spine.
One of the most powerful stretches, and technically an advanced yoga asana once you are flexible enough, the forward bend is crucial for loosening the lower back muscles and stretching the hamstrings and glutes.
It is performed just how you would imagine, by standing with your legs together and bending forward at the waist. If you are advanced enough, you will eventually be able to “fold yourself” in half and hug your own legs.
Don’t worry, if you’re not at that point yet (or even anywhere close!), the important thing to do when starting out is to bend gently at the waist until you feel the first onset of tension in your hamstrings. Keep the stretch for at least 30-40 seconds, otherwise it won’t be as effective.
Perform this stretch near the beginning of yoga routines and other times through the day. I like to perform a forward bend shortly after waking up – it’s one of those “body supercharges.” Not only does it get the blood flowing, it tones the core, stretches your muscles in all the right places, and soothes the lower back. It is also an extremely potent compliment to the upward-facing dog. While not featured in this list of routines, it is also effective for strengthening the core and toning the back muscles.
Another apparently simple pose, but extremely effective for relieving spinal stress and reducing pain. The spinal twist is not only great for toning the spine and increasing its ability to bend and pivot, but it also tones the core and opens the hips all in one. The best part is, it hits these tasks from a different angle than the previous poses. All of these twists and stretches combined give the back, spine, and core a full workout.
They can also be performed in just about any order, but we recommend going through all of them in a given workout and spending no less than a minute or two on each. For the spinal twist and child’s pose, we recommend upwards to three to five minutes. It is important that the spine and the surrounding muscles get worked on – this part of the body is most ignored by modern day workouts and our daily life in modern times, though in nature the sides of our core and lower back play an important role in every day life.
You can see that by not working this part of the body, we become stiff and develop a ton of back-related problems. Only by toning the core and loosening the spine do we see these issues alleviate.
Note that by performing these exercises and strengthening the corresponding parts of your body, you will see a reduction in pain, because the pain is there due to pinched nerves, knotted muscles, bad posture, misaligned discs, and inflammation. These exercises are designed to eliminate the causes of these problems, so once the problems are rectified even marginally, you will see a progressive reduction of pain.
It’s important to remember not to push yourself however.
If any pose causes extreme discomfort, resort to the child’s pose, rest in that state for a few minutes, and then go back to the routine another day, but more gentler. Stretches and twists are a double-edged sword. They are without a doubt one of the best ways to tone the body, heal maladies in regards to muscle and bone, and increase flexibility to prevent further injuries, but it is also easy to over-extend muscles or sprain yourself if you attempt too much too fast.
Always listen to your body, go slow, and eat healthy while you are performing yoga, that way your body has all the nutrients it needs to ensure your muscles are supple and your cells are able to regenerate if anything is injured.
Do you have any experience with back pain that you would like to share? Drop a comment below and let us lend our insight!
The founder of Digital Sages, Matt has an extensive background in self-mastery and has authored several books on the subject. His goal is to demystify important esoteric subjects and help people transform their lives through self-awareness and personal empowerment.