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First of all, of course, a small disclaimer: since I’m not a chiropractor I’m not trying to give medical advice here.
Yoga can provide surprisingly immense pain relief, but get cleared with your doc first, and don’t force your body in ways it doesn’t want to be pushed!!
As you know, sitting down all day is back on your hips, back, the discs is your spine — and (you may not have known this part!) it even makes your hamstrings tight…causing even more back pain.
So, if you’re ready for that sweet but safe back crack, I want to talk about the poses that will help you traction the spine, and also make your hamstrings more flexible (again, I mention that because it’s so surprisingly CONNECTED to back pain!).
If you don’t know exactly what traction means, or why it’s good for your back: basically, it means stretching the spine…so two things pulling in opposite directions…whether that’s gravity, weights, or your own muscles. What happens during spinal traction? The LIGAMENTS in your spine stretch…The PRESSURE is taken off your vertebrae, and it literally increases the SIZE of the holes containing your nerve roots!
Now, not all stretching in yoga opens up the lower back. For example, when you’re just starting the class and the instructor has you “reach your hands to the sky to stretch your back”…it’s not the kind of “real” stretch we’re talking about! We have to get the weight of the head off the spine — take the load off the whole spine, especially the lumbar…and gravity is your best friend!
Meaning, there are a lot of yoga poses for lower back pain I could recommend…
But the best ones are the ones that stretch the spine by letting the forces of gravity do all the work…
Modified Bridge Pose
Heard of bridge pose? It looks like this:
And that’s pretty good for lower back pain, too! But to truly get a lumbar stretch, use a foam block under your back, then relax. Now, gravity’s taken over!
What if you can’t quite do that pose with a block under your back? Well, you can do a TEENY TINY block, and then use a taller and taller one over time, as you get more flexible!!
If you’re familiar with a traction table, this pose is quite similar to resting on that table!
Knees Up the Wall
This is another pose in the, “great IF you can do it, but not everyone can,” category! Basically, it’s exactly what it sounds like — you sit close to the wall and put your legs up against it…stretching those hamstrings!!
If you can’t do it…scoot your butt FURTHER AWAY from the wall, then try again…Most people can’t do a straight 90 degree angle on the first try, but again, you get more flexible over time…Which is true for all yoga poses for lower back pain!
Lay on your stomach, then rise up on your forearms…just like the sphinx! Feel anything in your lower back??
The way you achieve spinal traction in this pose is by PULLLING back with your hands, like you’re the Sphinx trying to pull back some sand (without actually moving your arms).
You should feel like your back is “dragging” behind as you pull forward, and I hope you feel the stretch…I know I do!!
Doing these poses shouldn’t be too much of a “stretch” for you…Or, actually, it should be a big stretch!
Don’t be surprised if you hear a tad bit of POPPING and CRACKING while doing these yoga poses for lower back pain…that means you just got some free physical therapy!
And if you think it’d be more fun doing this as a GROUP activity, you can always join me by clicking here!