By Amruta Kulkarni, CYT 500
The healing and therapeutic nature of yoga is well-known as people across the world with a variety of injuries have found relief from pain and inflammation through carefully selected poses designed to strengthen and tone the targeted problem areas. A person with an injury even has the option now of visiting a certified yoga therapist or incorporating asanas into physical therapy sessions. In the case of back injuries, there are many Hatha yoga techniques for the reduction or elimination of pain.
Yoga for Back Injuries
Back injuries are often the result of a combination of weak core muscles or disrupted vertebrae. They can also result from disorders like scoliosis, which is an unnatural curve of the spine, or a misaligned spine, which is where muscles pull on the spine at different rates of tension and take it out of alignment. One way that patients with chronic back pain resulting from injuries or problems like these find relief is through a consistent yoga practice.
Hatha yoga is designed to align the spine correctly while toning and strengthening the body, certain poses can build enough strength and support in the back that the pain is relieved. Obviously, injuries that are muscular in nature, like sprains or strains, can be corrected fairly easily through back- and core-strengthening poses. Other injuries can be slowly relieved or possibly cured as poses correct poor alignment and strengthen muscles where formerly little support was given.
Six Basic Asanas for Back Pain
1. Cat pose lifts and stretches the spine.
2. Bridge pose strengthens abdominal and back muscles.
3. Downward facing dog provides a lengthening spinal stretch.
4. Marichi’s pose or a similar half lord of the fishes pose stretches the lower back and strengthens the oblique muscles.
5. Locust pose strengthens back and leg muscles.
6. Extended triangle pose strengthens abdominal muscles while stretching the spine.
One of the primary reasons why practitioners develop back pain during their yoga practice is because they have failed to pay attention to their bodies’ warning signs. This can happen even during poses designed to strengthen and elongate the spine. In fact, because of the vulnerability of the thoracic and cervical vertebrae during some poses, injuries located here can be quite serious.
To avoid hurting yourself even worse while practicing yoga for back pain, pay attention to pain levels and work hard at moving slowly within poses to minimize abrupt poses transitions. Never perform a pose if your doctor or physical therapist has advised against the movement. For example, if hyperextension worsens your back pain, avoid doing poses like the bow or camel pose. Using caution during yoga therapy will help prevent future injuries and encourage relief of old ones.
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