At some point in your life, you may be one of the 80 percent of Americans suffering from back pain. Low back pain affects the job performance, daily activities, and sleep performance of one-third of adults. As depressing as that may seem, there may be a glimmer of hope.
In a recent University of Maryland School of Medicine study, researchers concluded that yoga may benefit people with chronic back pain. The study appeared earlier this month in the online journal Cochrane Library.
"We found that the practice of yoga was linked to pain relief and improvement in function," said L. Susan Wieland, PhD, MPH, Assistant Professor of Family & Community Medicine at UM SOM, and Coordinator of the Cochrane Complementary Medicine Field at the Center for Integrative Medicine at UM SOM and the study's lead author. "For some patients suffering from chronic non-specific low back pain, yoga may be worth considering as a form of treatment."
When back pain sufferers did yoga for three to six months, they experienced improvements in pain, stated a press release summarizing the study.
According to our yoga experts, these five poses can lead to back pain relief.
1. Supine Twist
One of my absolute favorite yoga poses for releasing the lower back is a reclined or supine twist. Lying on your back with your heels flat on the ground near your glutes, lift the hips and lower your knees to the right side of your body. The knees might not lower all the way to the ground, so rest them on a blanket, bolster or block. Send the top hip toward the bottom of the mat and gaze over the left (opposite) releasing the shoulder to the mat. Switch sides. Being mindful to send the hip toward the bottom of the mat intensifies the stretch and feels oh so yummy! I do this multiple times a day. - Melissa Okrasinski (@melokra)
2. Cat/Cow Sequence
A sequence that helps with lower back pain: start in tabletop position- hands and knees on floor. Palms under shoulders, knees under hips. With an exhale, arch your back to the ceiling- keep your chin tucked while squeezing abdominals to the spine. With an inhale, scoop the belly down to the ground- creating a dish shape with the back, gaze forward. – Sapta Yin (@Sapta_Yin)
3. Twisted Melting Heart
Start from a neutral tabletop position, lengthen your arms to the front of you, dropping your chest towards the ground as hips stay high. Breathe here for 5 breaths, adjusting as your body tells you. After our 5 breaths, walk your hands back to take the right arm, under the left side to reach. Work to root the back of your right shoulder to the floor, bending your left arm as much as is needed. Continue encouraging the twist with each exhale- stay for 5 breaths. Return to center to repeat on opposite side. – Sapta Yin (@Sapta_Yin)
Sphinx is my go-to yoga pose for lower back pain because it reverses all that sitting we do all day and strengthens the spine. Lie on your stomach with your legs about hip-distance apart and the tops of your feet resting on your mat. Come onto your elbows and make sure they are directly underneath your shoulders with your forearms and palms flat on the mat, then roll your shoulders back and away from your ears while expanding your chest up and pressing your forearms and pelvis into the ground, so it feels like you're trying to drag the mat out from underneath you. Hold for 5-10 breaths. – Marie Albiges (@MarieAlbiges)
5. Lower Back Clasp
This is a gentle backbend that stretches and strengthens the lower back. Lay face down on your stomach, clasp your hands behind you and lift your chest up off the ground. Again, this stretch is most effective when your palms are clasped together, so try bending your elbows if you can’t get there. Hold for three breaths. - Leigh Weingus(@leighweingus)
So what are you waiting for? Grab a yoga mat and say good bye to lower back pain.
As with other forms of physical activity, yoga carries the risk of possible injury. These beginner yoga poses designed to relive mild lower back pain may not be sufficient for all forms of back pain. Talk to your health care provider before trying yoga.