If you have back pain, you might feel encouraged to stop exercising, take pain medication and lie on the couch all day. However, if you do nothing, your back can actually become weaker. Although it might seem counterintuitive, exercise is actually one of the best ways to prevent back pain from developing and to treat current back pain. Specifically, yoga is a perfect exercise to improve back pain, for more than just its physical benefits.
When you strengthen your back muscles, you make them better able to deal with the stress you put your body through during the day; therefore, you’re less likely to injure yourself. Plus, strengthening other areas of your body, like your legs, abs and hips, can help take pressure off your back. Many yoga poses help strengthen all of these areas. A well-rounded yoga session can work on muscles you didn’t even know you had.
Yoga also stretches and limbers your body, taking pressure off the back. For instance, tight hamstrings and hips can cause back pain and injury. Many yoga poses also improve your posture, in ways like helping your back alignment and straightening out rounded shoulders. This can take unnecessary pressure off your back as well.
Finally, emotional problems and stress can cause tight shoulders, tense back muscles and spasms in the back. Breathing, meditation and awareness of the body during yoga can all help ease stress and help you deal with your problems in better ways throughout the day.
Numerous yoga poses perform all of these benefits. Try cat and cow, which stretches and loosens your back. Tree pose improves the flexibility in your hips and strengthens your legs and back. Camel pose strengthens your spine, neck, waist and legs, plus it improves rounded shoulders that can cause excess pressure on the back. Locust pose and Mountain pose improve posture. Many backbends, especially cobra pose, stretch and strengthen the back. Also, restorative poses like Easy pose and Corpse pose can help you let go of your stress and allow your muscles to relax.
Although yoga can be beneficial to the back, it is important to perform the poses correctly. Performing the postures too quickly and not focusing on the correct method can actually cause strain and injury. Some types of yoga, such as hot yoga, are also more prone to injury. Specifically, hot yoga can be dangerous because the heat can make you push into a pose farther than your body is ready for or currently capable of. Sitting forward bends can cause back pain and problems, especially if you have tight hamstrings. Because of this, it’s important to learn how to perform the poses correctly, learn which poses are best for your body and pay attention to your body. If you feel pain, focus on what you might change in your posture, don’t go so deep or skip that posture for the day. It can help to work with a Certified Yoga Instructor and to look at your poses in a mirror to focus on your alignment.