Yoga Poses For Low Back Pain? (THE TRUTH)
By Shane Dowd, CES, CMP
Namaste, fellow yogis! Today, let's dive into a topic causing some confusion:
The truth about yoga for low-back pain.
You might be surprised to learn that the answer isn't as straightforward as you might think.
So, roll out your yoga mats, and let´s uncover the truth together!
The Importance of How You Use Yoga
Contrary to popular belief, yoga may or may not benefit low-back pain—it all depends on how you approach it. The key lies in how you use yoga to address your specific needs. If you focus on strengthening your core and mobilizing your hips, then yoga can indeed be a great tool for relieving back pain.
The Risks of Excessive Low-Back Stretching
However, it's crucial to be cautious when stretching your low back excessively. In this article, renowned back pain specialist, Stu McGill, warns that “overstretching the lower back can potentially do more harm than good. Your back simply wasn't designed for intense stretching.”
Yoga Stretches That Can Help
OK, but not all yoga poses are bad! Let's explore three yoga stretches that can genuinely alleviate low-back pain:
- Hip Flexor Stretch: Start in a lunge position with one knee on the ground and the other leg extended forward. Keep your torso upright and gently push your hips forward. You should feel a stretch in the front of your hip. Hold for several breaths and switch sides. This stretch indirectly relieves tension and discomfort in the low back by targeting the hip flexor muscles.
- Quad Stretch: Stand tall and bring one foot up towards your glutes by bending your knee. Reach back with your hand and grab your foot or ankle. Gently pull your foot towards your glutes while keeping your torso upright. You might feel a stretch in the front of your thigh. Hold for several breaths and switch sides. Lengthening your quadriceps through this stretch helps improve flexibility and eases the strain on the low back.
- Pigeon Pose: Begin in a plank position, then bring your right knee forward and place it behind your right wrist. Extend your left leg straight behind you, keeping the top of your foot on the ground. Slowly lower your upper body towards the floor, resting on your forearms or extending your arms fully. You should feel a deep stretch in your right hip. Hold for several breaths and switch sides. The pigeon pose is a powerful hip opener that releases tightness in the hips and indirectly relieves tension in the lower back.
Or take a look at the video I created to show these safe poses on my YouTube channel (video above).
Yoga Stretches to Approach with Caution
On the other hand, there are a few yoga poses that you should approach with caution if you're dealing with low-back pain:
- Forward Fold: Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart. Slowly bend forward at the hips, keeping your back as flat as possible. Be cautious not to round your back excessively during this pose, as it can strain the low back. Instead, focus on lengthening your spine and reaching forward with your chest. If necessary, bend your knees slightly to relieve any low back tension.
- Spinal Twisting: Sit on the floor with your legs extended in front of you. Bend one knee and place the foot outside the opposite thigh. As you twist, place your hand on the floor behind you for support and gently twist your upper body towards the bent knee. While twisting can be beneficial, avoid over-twisting the low back, as it may exacerbate pain. Aim to feel it in your upper back instead. Listen to your body's limits and avoid discomfort or strain in the low back.
- Cobra Pose: Lie on your stomach with your palms resting on the floor beside your shoulders. Press your hands into the ground, engage your glutes, and lift your chest off the floor. Keep your pelvis grounded and avoid excessive back arching. Ensure you engage your glutes and core while performing the cobra pose to support your low back and prevent strain. If you feel any discomfort or excessive tension in the low back, reduce the height of the lift or skip this pose altogether.
Finding a Science-Based Approach
If you're experiencing low back pain, it's important to approach these poses cautiously and always listen to your body. If you want a science-based approach to address your back pain, consider exploring the 45-day Athletes Back program at GotROM.com or reach out for personalized, 1-on-1 VIP mentorship.
Taking the right steps and choosing appropriate poses can significantly impact your journey toward a healthy, pain-free body.
Remember, not all yoga poses are created equal when alleviating low-back pain. It's essential to listen to your body, choose poses wisely, and focus on strengthening your core and mobilizing your hips. Whether you opt for my science-based Athletes Back program or personalized VIP mentorship, remember that you're just one step away from building or re-building your perfect body.
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