The lower back (lumbar spine, is a well-engineered structure of interconnecting bones, joints, nerves, ligaments, and muscles all working together to provide support, strength, and flexibility. However, this complex structure also leaves the low back susceptible to injury and pain.
Lower back pain can be defined as dull or achy and may include one or more of the following:
Sciatica (A burning pain that moves to the back of the legs & can include numbness or tingling).
General muscle tightness in the low back, pelvis, and hips.
Pain that worsens after prolonged sitting or standing.
Difficulty standing up straight, walking, or moving from standing to sitting.
So, how can yoga help with lower back pain?
Breath-work – As well as calming the body and mind, control of your breath (pranayama) helps to detoxify your body by encouraging strong circulation. Yoga increases blood flow, allowing nutrients to flow in and toxins to move out from the body (nourishing the soft tissues & muscles in the back). It helps to stretch and strengthen both sides of the body equally (unlike some other forms of exercise) and for people with lower back pain, stretching is very important.
Proper body alignment, good posture and strength building poses are an important part of reducing or avoiding lower back pain, (helping to maintain the natural curvature of the spine). For example, the glute muscles (which stabilise your hips and lower back). A lot of us sit on them all day, giving them permission to turn off and not work. If we allow them to stay ‘turned off’ they become weak and lazy, so we need to strengthen them and remind them of their job. A well sequenced strong yoga class will quite literally, ‘have your back’.
A consistent practice will result in improved posture, an increased sense of balance, as well as strengthening both body and mind. Increased awareness of your body through yoga, helps you to understand and manage your capabilities. Knowing what types of movements feel good, and avoiding movements that may cause pain or injury, opening up a world of possibilities.
Look out for the new Yogacell Sunday workshops email (including one for ‘A healthy back)!