Back pain is a frustrating but common condition that affects up to 80 percent of people in the United States. It can be mild and temporary, or it can be severe and chronic. Treating back pain can be difficult because the causes vary for everyone, and there are so many points on the back that could be at the root of the trouble. Plus, nerves like the sciatic nerves can be an issue, too. But now researchers are finding that exercise can help in a tremendous number of cases, and yoga might be one of the best exercises out there.
Finding the cause is an important part of treating back pain because sometimes a minor change can remove most or all of the pain. Job stress, for example, can cause pains that go away once the person leaves that job. Overuse or stress from carrying heavy loads can be another cause, as can lumbar disc degeneration. But overall, most causes can benefit from the person getting more exercise (along with their doctor’s OK, of course). At the very least, the exercise will reduce stress and increase muscle strength, both of which have good effects on back pain.
Working with a physical therapist or a trainer familiar with back pain is advisable. In many cases, these therapists and trainers work at clinics and gyms that also offer classes like yoga, and patients may be encouraged to take these classes. There are postures used to alleviate back pain, especially for those people who need to strengthen and support their back muscles and spine.
Some of the poses that may help include:
- Ardha Chandrasana (half moon pose)
- Dhanurasana (bow pose)
- Sethu Bandhanasana (bridge pose)
- Ushtrasana (camel pose)
- Utthishta Parsvakonasana (extended side angle pose)
- Uttishta Trikonasana (extended triangular pose)
Persons with back pain may want to also practice pranayama, or special breathing exercises. All exercises, even yoga, should be done in moderation, with care taken not to aggravate muscles that are already hurt. The yoga class should be led by an experienced practitioner; don’t attempt to do yoga solo.