One of the most frequent complaints in the United States is lower back pain. According to the Mayo Clinic, most of us will experience back pain some time in their life. Sedentary individuals and highly-trained athletes alike experience lower back pain.
Recently, we added an updated set of poses i.e. 5 Yoga Exercises for a Healthy Low Back. For a comprehensive approach on how to deal with back pain using yoga, read both articles.
Just by looking at the typical weekday of average Americans engaging in nine-to-five jobs, it is not surprising that lower back pain is often an issue.
Lower Back Pain Caused By Lengthy Sitting
After awaking, most people sit for breakfast or a cup of morning coffee only to follow that by sitting while driving to work. At work corporate employees often spend much of the day seated at a desk or attending meetings before lunch. Lunch is another session with sitting only to go back to a desk and sit some more until quitting time. This is all followed by more sitting on the commute home where one sits again to enjoy a meal.
The exhaustion from the day's work leads to more sitting on the couch watching television for a bit of unwinding. Purely from the standpoint of anatomy, it is easy to see that the muscles of the illiopsoas and hamstring are shortened due to so many hours spent sitting. This in turn causes lower back strain.
Athletes' Backs Hurt Too
Athletes are far from being sedentary individuals, so what causes them to suffer lower back pain? Weight-bearing activities such as running, jumping and rapid dynamic movements result in tension which causes back pain. Repeating these activities often and without proper stretching to release the tight muscles cause overuse injuries.
For sedentary nine-to-five employees, exercise will help relieve lower back pain and reduce risks from diabetes and heart disease. At this point I must assume that you are not in this category. If so, then you should add cardiovascular exercises to the stretches suggested here.
If you suffer from sciatica or a slipped disc in your lower back, please refrain from doing any deep forward bends since these might worsen your condition.
Lower Back Pain Relief Yoga Sequence
If you have lower back pain, you can receive relief with the following daily poses or use them after workouts. While you are doing the poses, be sure to breathe deeply in and out.
1. Supine Hamstring Stretch
While lying on your back bring your right knee up to your chest and then place a rolled up towel or strap around the ball of the foot. Now straighten this leg up toward the ceiling. Continue stretching with both heels. If you feel a strain in the lower back, place the left foot on the floor with the knee bent. Hold this pose for 3 to 5 minutes and switch to the other side for another 3 to 5 minutes.
2. Two-Knee Twist
Again, while on your back, bend the knees up to your chest and stretch your arms outward as if to form a T with your body. While exhaling, lower the knees back to your right all the way to the floor. Shoulders should remain pressed to the floor. If you find your left shoulder lifting, bring your knees farther down from the right arm. Hold this position for 1 to 2 minutes for each side.
This time lie on your stomach propped up on your forearms. Elbows should be directly beneath your shoulders. From the top of your palms through to the tops of your feet, press everything into the floor and this includes the pubic bone. Sensations will be evident in the lower back, but continue breathing right through this stretch. This will allow blood to flow better into your lower back which is healing. Hold this pose for 1 to 3 minutes.
With palms and knees on the floor, bring the right knee to just behind the right wrist and the lower part of your leg diagonally placed with your left hip. Square the hips to the floor and bend forward. Bring the elbows out wider and put one hand atop the other to form a pillow for your forehead. Hold this position for 2 to 3 minutes and switch to the other side for another 2 to 3 minutes.
If your knees cannot take the pigeon pose, do Thread the Needle instead.
4B. Thread the Needle
With both feet flat to the floor and lying on your back, bend your right knee to form the figure four and the ankle on the right thigh. Bring your left calf to a parallel position with the floor by lifting the foot into the air. Thread the right hand through the opening between the legs and lock your hands behind the left thigh. Hold this position for 2 to 3 minutes before repeating with the other side.
5. Legs On The Wall
Lying on your back scoot the buttocks to the wall bringing your feet up onto the wall. This pose will drain stagnant fluids from the ankles and feet and help relax the lower back muscles. This pose is excellent for use after challenging workouts and should always be used after plane travel. Hold this position for 5 to 10 minutes.