If you are suffering from back pain, you are not alone. Back pain is a common global problem for millions of people, with a staggering 7.5% of the population affected by it. As many of us do, sitting for long periods combined with bad posture is a recipe for sore and aching back muscles. Gentle yoga can be a relief for many sufferers.
7.5% of the global population suffers from back pain.
Regular practice of certain yoga postures can help alleviate back pain.
Remember to go slowly and gently.
Try and perform each posture daily for maximum effect.
Yoga is a healthy and natural way to take care of your spine from top to bottom. Many people turn to yoga when traditional methods have failed to alleviate their pain. Let’s look at some of the best yoga poses that might help.
How does yoga help to relieve back pain?
Firstly, yoga is a form of movement that focuses on the correct structural alignment of the body. When your alignment is optimal, your body can perform at its best. Secondly, yoga increases awareness of the movements of the body. With regular practice, you’ll notice the habitual ways you use your body - and how you might improve to reduce the risk of further pain.
According to Harvard Medical school, yoga can be beneficial to the muscles that support the back and spine.
- Paraspinal muscles - help to bend your spine.
- Multifidus muscles - stabilize your vertebrae.
- Transverse abdominis - stabilize and support your spine.
It’s essential to keep these muscles strong and supple to enable them to perform their correct functions and support your spine effectively.
There are yoga poses that work specifically to target these areas, and performing them regularly can contribute to a reduction in back pain. It’s important to remember that as you begin a journey with yoga for back pain, you must do so under the guided supervision of a trained professional. And always go slowly to reduce the risk of further injury or discomfort.
What are some of the best beginner yoga poses for back pain?
1. Downward-facing dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
To get into this posture, begin in a tabletop position on all fours. Tuck your toes under and push yourself up and back, directing your hips to the ceiling. Your body should form the shape of an upside-down ‘V’.
This is a great full-body posture that stretches all the muscles in the back body. It’s great for loosening tightness in the back of the hips and lower back.
2. Standing forward fold (Uttanasana)
To get into this posture, stand with your feet hip distance apart and gradually fold forward, allowing the head to be heavy and pointing towards the ground. Don’t worry if your hands don’t come to the floor; that will happen with enough time and practice. Make sure your knees are soft and not locked.
This pose is particularly good if you spend a long time sitting at a desk. It utilizes gravity to allow the spine to lengthen and the surrounding muscles to stretch. You could even do this pose once every hour or so as a break from sitting down. Your back will thank you!
3. Cat pose (Marjaryasana) / Cow pose (Bitilasana)
This is a wonderful pose and uses movement to explore the range of motion in the spine. Begin on all fours in a tabletop position with a neutral flat spine. Take a deep inhalation and as your belly fills, move into ‘cow pose’, lifting your tailbone to the sky. You can look upwards, being mindful not to strain your neck. As you exhale, draw the belly in and arch the spine upwards, creating an arch. This is a ‘cat pose’. Repeat this sequence for a minute or two, synchronizing breath and movement.
Cat/Cow is excellent for spine mobility and health. The pose releases tension, and the coordination of breath and movement relaxes the nervous system.
4. Plank pose (Dandasana)
Your back is closely linked with your core, and the plank pose is incredible for strengthening the core muscles that support the spine.
To move into plank posture, begin in a tabletop position and move your legs out behind you so that your body is parallel to the floor. Draw your belly up and in, feeling the muscles tense as you gaze down between your hands. Take long, slow breaths in and out through the nose.
5. Seated spinal twist (Ardha Matsyendrasana)
Twists are great for releasing the spine, stretching the muscles that support it, and improving flexibility. To move into a seated spinal twist, begin with your legs in front of you. Bend the right leg and cross it over the left with your right foot planting into the floor. Twist your body to the right, crossing the left arm across the bent right knee to increase the stretch. Take a few deep breaths, release the posture and move to the other side.
Simple yoga postures can have a profound effect on your back pain
Although these poses are simple, they are incredibly effective for alleviating back pain. When practiced daily, you could notice an improvement in a matter of days or weeks.
Make sure you go slowly and gently, don’t push your body to do more, just allow the release to happen mindfully. Remember to breathe deeply and give your body time to relax into each posture.
You don’t have to suffer from back pain and sore muscles. Try incorporating these poses into a daily routine; soon enough, the tightness and aching will begin to subside.
- The Good Body. 39 Global Back Pain Statistics: How Common Is Back Pain?
- Harvard Health Publishing. The safe way to do yoga for back pain.
- IASP. The Global Burden of Low Back Pain.