Yoga for Lower Back Pain: A Beginner's Guide to Easing Back Pain with Stretching
Some of the best exercises for your body include a combination of cardiovascular, strength, and stretching routines. A mixture of activities will help you to increase your heart rate, all while strengthening your muscles and improving your sense of well-being.
Yoga for lower back pain is one of your all-inclusive options—and it is also among the most popular workouts today. While it is beloved among men and women of all ages for its wellness benefits, it has been around for thousands of years. Rooted in India, yoga is well-known around the globe for offering people a low-impact physical activity and a newfound inner peace.
If you are interested in yoga for back pain, keep reading this guide. We will explain exactly how certain stretches can help to improve your symptoms and keep you active. You will also discover the types of philosophies and poses that can help to protect your back and body while enhancing your health.
The Origins & Main Benefits of Yoga
The history of yoga begins in the religious texts of the Sanskrit language. Some of the most common translations of the word “yoga” include “put to active and purposeful use,” “join,” and “concentrate.” During practice, the practitioner follows a series of poses and breathing exercises that are designed to keep the mind in the present moment, enhance physical stamina, and improve discipline.
While this is the origin of yoga, today it is renowned for a variety of reasons. Doctors of osteopathic medicine say that maintaining a regular yoga practice can build harmony throughout the mind and body. Other benefits of the activity include increased flexibility, better muscle tone, and more energy. You may also notice that yoga helps you maintain a healthier weight and a more balanced metabolism, as well as to avoid some of the most common sports injuries that can leave you sidelined for days or weeks.
How Yoga Helps with Back Pain
Many of the foundational poses and stretches in yoga practice can also help to keep your lower back healthy. According to Spine Universe, yoga for chronic lower back pain is also based on clinical evidence. One study involving over 300 adults showed that those who participated in a regular yoga routine saw an improvement in mobility and a reduction in pain.
Learn the specific ways you can help to reduce your back symptoms:
- Enhances Muscle Tone: Yoga poses help to increase the strength in specific muscle groups. This is why there are hundreds of pose options for your practice. When you choose poses and stretches that are designed to strengthen the lower back, you can enhance the muscle tone in this area. You will also improve the strength in your abdominal area, which helps to increase the wellness of the spine. As your muscles in your core become better conditioned, you can reduce or avoid pain in your lumbar area.
- Reduces Muscle Tension: Since yoga combines stretching and deep-breathing exercises, you will help to reduce tension in the lower back muscles that carry the most stress. Each stretch requires you to hold it from 10-60 seconds, which provides your muscles and ligaments with the right amount of flexing and releasing. When you are done, the muscles and joints that align your spine will feel more flexible and relaxed.
- Improves Body Alignment: Most yoga poses are designed to keep your posture aligned and balanced. Practicing on a regular basis can help to improve the way you stand and sit. Better body alignment can help to reduce pain and increase the amount of oxygen and nutrient supply..
- Increases Pain Awareness: When you slow down and complete regular yoga practice, you learn more about the limitations of your body. During each pose, you will notice if you are lacking mobility in a muscle group or feeling pain in certain areas of your back. Keeping track of these sensations will make you more aware of your symptoms, as well as which poses help to reduce them. It will also help you become more in touch with your body, so you can recognize uncomfortable symptoms right away.
Types of Yoga for Back Pain
There are a variety of yoga styles, but some are better for relieving back pain than others. Read about some of the most popular types of practice for people who have back pain. Learning the distinctions between the different styles can help you find the one that is right for you.
Here are a few of the main types of yoga for lower back pain:
- Hatha Yoga: As one of the most popular types of yoga today, it is also renowned for helping ease lower back pain. The main reason is because it is backed by research. A review of studies and literature published by the National Institute of Health indicates that hatha yoga can relieve pain and improve functioning, all while being done safely. There are a few different types of yoga under the hatha umbrella, but you will probably hear most basic classes referred to by this general name. Each hatha yoga practice is designed to align your body and calm your mind. According to Yoga Journal, it is also used to prepare the spirit for meditation.
- Iyengar Yoga: If you like hatha yoga and want to take your practice to another level, try an iyengar class. Iygenar yoga focuses on perfecting each pose. For this reason, you will usually hold stretches for longer than you do during other practices. This approach allows you to stay in tune with your muscles and skeletal alignment. When you are experiencing stiffness or tension associated with lower back pain, you can use props such as blocks and blankets to help you complete your stretch.
- Integrative Yoga Therapy (IYT): This unique approach to yoga combines gentle postures with guided imagery and breathing techniques. Designed for hospitals, rehabilitations, and wellness centers, integrative yoga therapy can also be used to help treat people with health issues such as depression and heart disease. The best part about IYT is that it is tailored to a person’s condition. If you suffer from lower back pain, you can use it to relax your mind, cope with discomfort, and practice the right stretches for your tension and decreased mobility.
- Kundalini Yoga: This popular type of yoga combines stretches, breathing techniques, and meditative mantras to help encourage a healthier body and a sense of inner peace. As you complete each pose and chant the mantras, you are working on awakening the energy in your spine and throughout your body. It is also an ideal practice for people who want to combine their yoga practice with meditation and mindfulness.
Best Poses for Lower Back Pain
Now you know about a few of the main yoga philosophies that are most appropriate for relieving your lower back pain. It is time to learn about the poses and stretches that are a part of these yoga practices. Explore some of the movements you can start doing today. You can even practice them on your own as you look for a yoga app or join a group class.
Some of the best stretches and poses for lower back pain are:
- Downward-Facing Dog: As one of the most popular poses in yoga today, adults of children of all ages love doing it because it is easy to remember and simple to complete. Strengthen the muscles in your lower body by completing a few steps. First, get on all fours. Next, work to align your hands with your wrists. Now, make sure your knees are positioned under your hips.
Once you are properly aligned, press into your hands and tuck your toes. Lift up your knees and raise your sitting bones up toward the ceiling. Lengthen your spine as you keep a slight bend in your knees. Keep your heels off the floor and keep pressing firmly into your hands. Make sure your weight is distributed evenly across both sides of your body. Keep your shoulders and hips in place and tuck your chin slightly. Hold this pose for several seconds or up to one minute at a time.
- Child’s Pose: The child’s pose is one of the best ways to relieve tension in your lower back. It is also relaxing for the mind and body. To complete this stretch, sit back on your heels. Make sure your knees are together. If your legs or back are extremely tight, you can place a blanket under your thighs or core area for support.
Once you are comfortable, bend forward. Walk your hands in front of you until you can rest your forehead on your bolster or the floor. Keep your back relaxed and let your body fall into your knees. You can hold this pose for several seconds or up to five minutes.
- Cat-Cow: This is another gentle stretch that you can use to improve function and mobility in your back. It is also a great way to release tension in your core, shoulders, and neck. To complete the Cat-Cow, get on all fours. Place your wrists underneath your shoulders, and then make sure your knees are aligned below your hips.
As you work to balance your weight evenly on all four sides, inhale and let your stomach drop toward the mat. As you begin to exhale the same breath, tuck your chin to your chest, draw your belly toward your spine, and arch your back toward the ceiling. Stay relaxed, keep breathing deeply, and continue the pose in one fluid motion for at least one minute.
- Sphinx Pose: There are many benefits to completing this simple pose, including a stronger spine and stress relief. You will also feel this stretch throughout your body. To do the sphinx pose, lie on your stomach and extend your legs behind you. Rest your elbows under your shoulders and your forearms on the floor. Your palms should be facing downward. Push through your hands and slowly lift your upper torso and head.
To help prevent too much tension in the lumbar area, make sure you are engaging your core abdominal muscles instead of your lower back. Go slowly, ensuring you are lifting your body up through your spine and head. Fully relax while keeping your gaze straight ahead. Start by doing this pose for a few seconds, and then work up to up to five minutes at a time.
- Extended Triangle: This standing stretch works the muscles that help to support the lower back, including the gluteus maximus and hamstrings. It is also known to help relieve backaches and sciatica. Use the extended triangle anytime you want to stretch your spine, hips, and groin. It can also be used as a way to relieve anxiety and stress.
Start the pose in a standing position. Walk your feet so they are about four feet apart. Now, tilt your right toes so they are facing forward, while your left toes extend out at an angle. Lift your arms so they are parallel to the floor. Keep your palms facing down as you tilt forward and hinge at your right hip. Move forward with your arm and torso, and then bring your right hand to your leg. Extend your left arm up toward the ceiling and look upward. Hold this pose for 30 seconds to one minute. Repeat the same pose on the opposite side of the body.
What You Need to Get Started
To get started, all you need to know is how to do your stretches. If you need support for your torso, head, or lower back, find a bolster such as a foam roller or a soft, thick blanket. For those who want to complete a yoga class, digital routines and online apps are readily available. Seek out the type of yoga practice that is best for your needs and lifestyle, and then practice some of the main poses and stretches above.
A yoga mat will help to cushion your body and prevent slips and falls. Wear an outfit with moisture-wicking material that fits tightly to the body. Some examples are athletic pants, leggings, and tank tops. A combination of comfort and performance will help you to complete your poses with ease while avoiding illness or injury.
Complementary Therapies for Back Pain
When you are done with your yoga poses and stretches, consider taking a warm bath or using heat therapy, such as a heating pad. When used as directed by your doctor, these at-home remedies can help to release muscle tension and keep your lower back limber and free of pain.
If you are searching for an effective solution that doesn’t require heat, consider using laser light therapy belts for back pain. Using the power of photobiomodulation therapy (PBMT), formerly often referred to as low-level light therapy (LLLT), these devices are helpful for reducing muscle spasms, inflammation, and discomfort without the use of pharmaceuticals or invasive procedures. Best of all, laser light therapy belts are easy to use, are durable enough for daily wear, and have no known side effects.
When to Talk to a Doctor
If you have any questions about the stretches and poses that are safe for back pain, do not hesitate to consult with your primary care physician or specialist. They can help you decide if these activities are right for your condition. They can also help to recommend the routines that are best for your recovery.
It is also important to make an appointment with a physician if your back pain gets worse or continues for more than several weeks. In some cases, you could have a back condition that needs professional care. If you can treat your symptoms at home, your doctor can provide you with the best remedies to follow. They can also let you know when and how to follow up if you do not notice relief.
Easing Your Back Pain with Yoga
For many people, yoga is a therapy that can help to relieve lower back pain. Since it includes stretches and exercises, it helps to strengthen the back while improving function and mobility. It is also a great way to relax the muscles in your back while relieving discomfort, stress, and anxiety.
When you care for your mind and body and focus on the ways that you can lessen your back symptoms, you will enjoy a better quality of life. You may also find that you can get rid of your back pain for good. As a leader in the creation of medical devices for photobiomodulation, we are passionate about introducing new products to help people lead healthier lives. We look forward to assisting you in meeting your wellness goals and helping you improve how you feel.