If you find yourself sitting or standing for long periods of time, there’s a good possibility that you’ve experienced lower back pain at one point or another. If the pain is excruciating, you should always check with your doctor to rule out the possibility of deeper conditions like a herniated or bulging disc.
Multiple studies have proven that Yoga even trumped usual care in a 2011 study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. When researchers followed 300 people with lower back pain for more than a year, they found that the half who were randomly assigned to do yoga reported better back function (although similar levels of pain) throughout the course of the study.
Practicing the following back saving yoga poses can help lengthen your spine, stretch and strengthen your muscles, and return your back to its proper alignment.
1. DOWNWARD-FACING DOG
Start on your hands and knees, with your hands slightly in front of your shoulders. Pressing back, raise your knees away from the floor and lift your tailbone up toward the ceiling. For an added hamstring stretch, gently push your heels toward the floor. Hold the position for 5 to 10 breaths, and repeat the pose five to seven times.
2. CHILD’S POSE
Start on all fours with your arms stretched out straight in front of you, then sit back so your glutes (butt muscles) come to rest just above — but not touching — your heels. Hold the position for 5 to10 breaths, and repeat as many times as needed for a good, soothing stretch.
3. PIGEON POSE
Start in downward-facing dog with your feet together. Then draw your left knee forward and turn it out to the left so your left leg is bent and near-perpendicular to your right one; lower both legs to the ground. You can simply keep your back right leg extended straight behind you, or for an added hamstring stretch — seasoned pigeon posers, only! — carefully pull your back foot off the ground and in toward your back. Hold the position for 5 to 10 breaths, then switch to the other side, and repeat as needed.
4. TRIANGLE POSE
Start standing straight with your feet together. Next, lunge your left foot back three to four feet, and point your left foot out at a 45-degree angle. Turn your chest to the side and open up the pose by stretching your right arm toward the ground and the left arm toward the ceiling, keeping both your right and left legs straight. You may not be able to touch the ground with your right arm at first, so don’t over-stretch — only bend as far as you can while maintaining a straight back. Hold the position for 5 to 10 breaths, then switch to the other side, and repeat as needed.
5. COW & CAT POSE
Starting in an all-fours position, move into cat pose by slowly pressing your spine up, arching your back. Hold for a few seconds and then move to cow (pictured at left) by scooping your spine in, pressing your shoulder blades back and lifting your head. Moving back and forth from cat to cow helps move your spine onto a neutral position, relaxing the muscles and easing tension.
Repeat 10 times, flowing smoothly from cat into cow, and cow back into cat. Repeat the sequence as needed.
6. UPWARD FACING DOG
Stand straight with feet shoulder-width apart, and your knees loose, not locked. While you exhale, hinge at your waist and bend forward, reaching toward the floor. Don’t worry if you can’t reach all the way to the floor at first; just stop wherever your hamstrings feel a comfortable stretch. Repeat the pose five to seven times. On the last bend hold the position for 5 to 10 breaths.
7. COBRA POSE
Start lying flat on the floor with your palms face down by the middle of your ribs. While drawing your legs together and pressing the tops of your feet into the floor, use the strength of your back, not your hands, to lift your chest off the floor. Leave your legs extended straight out at first. Hold the position for 5 to 10 breaths, and repeat as needed.
If you’re looking to kick your yoga practice up a notch and further improve your flexibility and core strengthen, then check out yoga specialist Kris Fondran’s Shape Shifter Yoga. Her yoga from home program shows you how in just one hour a week you can become stronger, leaner, and more flexible…without straining your muscles and joints.
I’ve been dealing with Plantar Fascitis in both of my feet for almost a year. I’ve tried numerous modalities without success. In physical therapy they did some massage techniques but what Morgan did was quite different and much deeper . Though a bit uncomfortable at times I welcome anything that makes a difference and I think this did. It was only my first visit but I am going back next week. He also was helpful with ideas for stretches and at home care.