If you’re suffering from chronic back pain, you’re not alone. Each year millions of people experience back pain symptoms ranging from mild to debilitating. The good news is that there are many things you can do to alleviate your pain, from strengthening core muscles to making sure you don’t sit for extended periods. Yoga can be excellent for many people with chronic back pain – check out these five poses that may help.
Even if you don’t have much experience with yoga, you probably know this popular pose. Downward dog benefits the entire body – it elongates the spine while strengthening the core, lower back, and hamstrings. It’s easy to get into this pose, too. Get on your hands and knees with your toes tucked under. Then, raise your hips toward the ceiling as you push your heels into the floor. Keep your back and legs straight. Hold for five slow breaths, relaxing into the stretch.
From downward dog, the upward dog is a smooth transition. Shift your body forward into a plank position. Point your toes back with the tops of your feet on the floor. Look upward as you keep your knees lifted off the ground. Hold for three slow breaths. This pose opens up the chest and improves the flexibility of your abs and back.
LOW LUNGE WITH BACK BEND
This pose can stretch and strengthen your entire back. Begin in a low lunge position and slowly deepen the lunge until your back knee is on the floor. Raise your arms up until they are beside your ears and lean back gently. For an extra neck release, place your hands behind your head and interlace your fingers. Hold this pose for three slow breaths.
SEATED FORWARD FOLD
Sit on the floor with your legs out in front of you and your back straight. Slowly walk your hands down your legs as far as you can. If you can grab your toes, do so – if not, reach as far as you can comfortably. You’ll feel an excellent hamstring stretch even if you rest your hands on your shins. You’ll know where to stop because you’ll feel a gentle stretch – if it feels too intense or painful, back off and hold a more comfortable position. This stretch is great for lengthening the hamstrings and back and helping you relax. Hold for several slow breaths, relaxing into the stretch – you’ll probably find that you can stretch a little farther with each exhale.
SEATED SPINAL TWIST
The seated spinal twist improves both your spine mobility and your posture. Start in a seated position with your left foot crossed over your right leg, knee bent so that your left foot is positioned against the outside of your right knee. Lift your right arm and hook your right elbow on the outside of your right knee. Gently looking over your left shoulder will give you a nice twist/stretch that feels great. Hold for three slow breaths and repeat on the other side.