It sucks, doesn’t it?
That dull, achy feeling in your lower back at the end the workday. It’s usually not enough to send you to the medicine cabinet. But sometimes you have no recourse.
You know people who’ve ended up with excruciatingly painful slipped discs. And surgery.
Is this frightening downhill road your future?
I’m about to reveal a better way to deal with back pain — one doesn’t involve drugs or surgery.
And it costs very little (especially when compared to medical bills).
But it requires a little effort from you. A little.
Yoga — a few simple moves and breathing exercises can help to diminish back pain and even increase your energy.
Ready to hear more?
Here are five simple ways that you can banish back pain using yoga. And be sure to sign up for your free cheat sheet.
Balancing on one leg creates equal strength in both your legs. Balancing strengthens the large muscles that stabilize your hip joint, so the surrounding muscles of your lower back don’t have to work as hard.
Balancing creates a strong foundation in your feet. Poor foundation in your feet sets you up for a myriad of problems — because it impacts your structural integrity. Pronating your feet can make your knees buckle inward, causing your hips to tighten.
When you balance on one leg you stabilize your center of gravity.
Try standing on one foot and lifting the opposite leg from the floor, high enough so you can hold your knee. In yoga you’ll practice all kinds of balances. And you’ll improve over time.
Start with a simple balance on one leg. Note if one side is harder than the other.
Hamstrings, the group of three big muscles behind your thighs, flex your knee joint and help you to walk. When sitting they’re partially contracted.
They originate on the back of your pelvic bones, and attach at the back of your knees. When tight, they’ll pull your pelvis and cause a slouched posture. Over time this compresses your lumbar spine and can cause disc pain.
Remember those stretches from PE class where you bend to touch your toes? Those are hamstring stretches. Many of the standing postures in yoga, including sun salutations lengthen the hamstrings.
When your muscles are warmed up, e.g. your blood is flowing, they are more likely to stretch and lengthen. When you use your own body to warm yourself (as opposed to practicing in a hot room), your muscles will lengthen gradually. We’ll show you a simple stretch for the hamstrings you can do at home in this cheat sheet.
If you push the area below your belly button in and out when you breath, you’re setting yourself up for a back ache.
Our lungs start around the level of our armpits and extend like inverted trees down to the bottom of our rib cage.
Think of your belly as the area below your belly button. Breathing into your belly just pushes out your intestines. To breathe deeply hold in your lower belly and breathe into your ribs. Think of your torso expanding like a balloon in all directions, front-to-back and side-to-side, and there’s an up and down movement.
When you breathe deeply your diaphragm extends down pressing on your abdominal organs, thus the term belly breathing.
In yoga, you learn to strengthen your core muscles to facilitate deep breathing. When the lower belly is held back, your abdominal muscles get a squeeze and massage, helping to move out waste and stuck material from a sedentary lifestyle.
When you learn to breath deeply, you’ll create an amazing amount of nourishment for your cells which translates to energy and vibrancy for your body. Bonus- you’ll lower your stress levels.
Not the superficial six pack muscles, called rectus abdominis. These don’t do much for you — except helping you to look good naked. But without strengthening the deeper muscles, your back is vulnerable to pain.
The transverse abdominis (TA) are a band of muscles that wrap from your lumbar spine around the front of your body around your abdominal organs. They form an inner corset around your waist. When these muscles are strong, they act like an airbag — keeping your lower back from getting compressed. And this will protect you from back pain. They also help you to sit up straight and have a slim waist. They keep the dreaded pot-belly from appearing.
Crunches don’t do it. The most effective method is weight using your whole body to stabilize your torso. Plank posture — where you balance on straight arms & your toes, and your TA muscles keep your hips from sagging. Side plank also engages the TA muscles with the obliques, also important core stabilizers.
Ashtanga vinyasa yoga is particularly effective for stabilizing these muscles, because many of the postures require core stabilization. (Want to learn more? We start an Intro Series each month.)
If you’ve spent years sitting at a desk, slouching over your keyboard, chances are your back muscles are weak. Can you comfortably sit on the floor or even away from a back rest for 5-10 minutes?
Tiny but essential muscles hold your spine in place, keeping it’s integrity. If these muscles are weakened from excessive sitting you may rely on our upper trapezius muscles to hold our arms and shoulders high and hunched (think of Dracula).
Strengthening muscles around your lower and middle back will bring the correct curvature to your spine. Babies do this when they lay on their bellies and lift their arms and legs. And this is a great way for you to start too.
Lay on your belly and try to gently lift your torso keep your legs pressed into the floor, and your shoulders relaxed.
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to be super-bendy or fit in order to start yoga.
But you do have to take that first step.
Don’t forget to grab your Cheat Sheet: 5 Ultra-Simple Techniques That Banish Back Pain and Anxiety.
But really want to see you in yoga class at Balance Yoga & Wellness.