In our modern sedentary lifestyles, lower back pains are currently one of the most common problems reported by office workers and students alike.
The lower back is made up of the vertebrae of the spine, as well as ligaments and muscles. Intervertebral discs are found along the spine, similar to ‘cushions’ made up of cartilage. It fits perfectly between two vertebrae. Any kind of injury or disease of these discs in the lower back, muscles and/or ligaments can cause back ache. The risk of lower back injury is even higher in people who are obese, as they are prone to a poor posture due to weak back and abdominal muscles. However, almost everyone will experience lower back pain at least once in their lifetime.
Due to a poor diet, the lack of physical activity or bad daily habits, this risk can increase day by day. Yoga is the best and most effective option to preventing and improving this problem.
Causes of Lower Back Pain
There are various causes for lower back pain. The health of your lumbar spine (specifically the L1-L5 vertebrae and discs) is directly affected by the action of the hip flexors and hamstrings. When there is an imbalance present in any number of these muscles, the lower back can easily be subject to strain and injury resulting in pain. Virtually all cases of chronic lower back pain are accompanied by tight hamstrings. Tight hamstrings prevent proper hip mobility and force your lumbar spine to bend forward more than is necessary during demanding activities. It is your hips that should move more and not your spine. Short/tight hamstrings are a very common problem to have. We all should understand the value of stretching our hamstrings. However, muscle or ligament strain is seen as the most common cause. If you experience back pain suddenly it is a sign of a muscle tear, disc problem or sprained ligament. Many other conditions, like fibromyalgia, osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, spinal stenosis and ankylosing spondylitis can cause back pain. Pregnancy can also lead to back pain (due to extra body weight, muscle and ligament firmness, and compression of spinal nerves). Overweight people are most prone to back pain, because of poor posture and extra strain of the body weight on discs and muscle.
Medical problems, like stomach problems (appendicitis, ulcers) and gall bladder disease can lead to back pain. Back pain can also be caused without any kind of injury. These conditions include pneumonia, kidney infections, infection of the spine and tumours. The pain which is worse in the morning and seems to reduce by movement and physical stretching is a result of muscle injury. Lower back pain which is worse at night and not relieved by exercise can be a “referred pain” that spreads to the back from other organs. This condition can also be a result of a bone problem. The pain that can be felt all the way down to the back of one or both of your legs is a sign of sciatica. When the sciatic or other spinal nerve is compressed, it will result in increased pain while sneezing, coughing or straining.
Relieving back pain is now much easier with yoga poses. These lower back asana will help you strengthen your back. They do not just relieve your lower back from pain, but they also help to prevent back pain in future. Whether you are trying to relieve or prevent your lower back from pain, try some great lower back yoga stretches.
While yoga isn’t a good idea if you have severe pain, those with occasional soreness or chronic aches may greatly benefit from certain postures that can help lengthen your spine, stretch and strengthen your muscles, and return your back to its proper alignment.
It’s always a good idea to ask your doctor before starting a new fitness regimen, especially if you’re prone to pain.
Once you get the green light, try these soothing poses for back pain. Gradually increase the intensity by holding them for longer amounts of time.
For lower back pain relief please do the following poses daily or at least after your workout. Breathe deeply in and out of the nose while doing these poses.
1. Tiriyak Tadasana (Swinging Palm Tree Pose)
The entire spine is stretched and loosened, helping to clear up congestion of the spinal nerves at the point where they emerge from the spinal column.
Do it: Stand with your feet together or a little more than hip-width apart. Fix your gaze at a point directly in front. Interlock your fingers turn the palms outwards. Inhale, and raise the arms up, over the head.
Extending the palms towards the ceiling and lifting the chest.
Exhale and bend to the right from the waist (do not lean forward or backwards or twist the trunk, Imagine you are between two panes of glass.) Feel the stretch up the left side of the body. Hold the position for a few seconds breathing normally, Inhale, slowly return back to the upright position. Exhale repeat on the other side.
2. Trikonasana (Triangle Pose)
Triangle pose is great for strengthening the back and legs and can help lengthen your muscles along the sides of your torso while stretching the muscle fibres along your outer hip.
Do it: Start standing straight with your feet together. Next, lunge your left foot back three to four feet, and point your left foot out at a 45-degree angle. Turn your chest to the side and open up the pose by stretching your right arm toward the ground and the left arm toward the ceiling, keeping both your right and left legs straight. You may not be able to touch the ground with your right arm at first. It is best not to over-stretch which may cause strain or injury — only bend as far as you can while maintaining a straight back. Hold the position for 5 to 10 breaths, then switch to the other side, and repeat as needed.
3. Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog)
This classic yoga pose is a great total body stretch that targets back extensors, or the large muscles that help form your lower back, support your spine, and help you stand and lift objects.
Do it: Start on your hands and knees, with your hands slightly in front of your shoulders. Pressing back, raise your knees away from the floor and lift your tailbone up toward the ceiling. For an added hamstring stretch, gently push your heels toward the floor. Hold the position for 5 to 10 breaths, and repeat the pose five to seven times.
4. Shishuasana (Child’s Pose)
It may look like you’re resting, but child’s pose is an active stretch that helps elongate the back. It’s also a great de-stressor before bed at the end of a long, exhausting day.
Do it: Start on all fours with your arms stretched out straight in front of you, then sit back so your glutes (butt muscles) come to rest just above — but not touching — your heels. Hold the position for 5 to 10 breaths, and repeat as many times as needed for a good, soothing stretch
5. Eka Pada Kapotasana (Pigeon Pose)
Pigeon pose, which can be a little challenging for yoga newbies, stretches hip rotators and flexors. It might not seem like the most obvious position to treat a back pain, but tight hips can contribute to lower back pain.
Do it: Start in downward-facing dog with your feet together. Draw your left knee forward and turn it out to the left so your left leg is bent and near-perpendicular to your right one; lower both legs to the ground. You can simply keep your back right leg extended straight behind you, or for an added hamstring stretch — experienced pigeon posers, only! — carefully pull your back foot off the ground and in toward your back. Hold the position for 5 to 10 breaths, then switch to the other side, and repeat as needed.
6. Marjariasana (Cat & Cow Pose)
The perfect poses for an achy, sore back, cow and cat stretch loosen back muscles, whether as part of a yoga routine or as a warm-up for another workout.
Do it: Starting in an all-fours position, move into cat pose by slowly pressing your spine up, arching your back. Hold for a few seconds and then move to cow by scooping your spine in, pressing your shoulder blades back and lifting your head. Moving back and forth from cat to cow helps move your spine onto a neutral position, relaxing the muscles and easing tension.
Repeat 10 times, flowing smoothly from cat into cow, and cow back into cat.
7. Wall Plank
You need to stand in front of the wall. Reach the wall with your hands and straighten them. Flatten your palms on the wall. Bend forward with your head facing downward. Lengthen your spine by stretching back as much as possible. You will come into an L shape. You may feel pain near the lower back if you do bend your knees. Try to maintain the spinal stretch for at least 2 minutes. Breath deeply as you stretch your back.
8. Padahastasana (Upward Forward Bend)
Sometimes called a forward fold, the upward forward bend stretches the hamstrings and back muscles while providing a release for tight, tense shoulders.
Do it: Stand straight with feet shoulder-width apart, and your knees loose, not locked. While you exhale, hinge at your waist and bend forward, reaching toward the floor. Don’t worry if you can’t
reach all the way to the floor at first; just stop wherever your hamstrings feel a comfortable stretch. Repeat the pose five to seven times. On the last bend hold the position for 5 to 10 breaths.
9. Bhujangasana (Upward Facing Dog)
This pose works to open up your chest, stretch your abdominal muscles, engage your back and soothes sciatica.
Do it: Start lying flat on the floor. Stretch your legs back, tops of the feet on the floor. Spread your hands on the floor under your shoulders.
Press the tops of the feet and thighs and the pubis firmly into the floor.
On an inhalation, begin to straighten the arms to lift the chest off the floor, going only to the height at which you can maintain a connection through your pubis to your legs. Press the tailbone toward the pubis and lift the pubis toward the navel. Narrow the hip points. Firm but don’t harden the buttocks.
Hold the pose anywhere from 15 to 30 seconds, breathing easily. Release back to the floor with an exhalation
10. Supta Padangusthasana (Supine Hamstring Stretch)
Lying on your back, bend your right knee into your chest and place a strap or rolled-up towel around the ball of your foot. Straighten your leg toward the ceiling. Press out through both heels. If the lower back feels strained, bend the left knee and place the foot on the ground. Hold for 3-5 minutes and then switch to the left leg for 3-5 minutes.
Lastly, keep in mind that moderation is key and to listen to your body before, during and even after any form of exercise. Allow your body to gradually become stronger for safer and longer lasting health and practise.