Lower back pain isn’t an uncommon complaint among American adults. From poor posture or injury to conditions affecting the spine — such as degenerative disc disease and herniated discs — there are numerous explanations for the back pain you may be experiencing.
While some of the spine conditions that cause lower back pain require medical treatment, lower back pain associated with stress, strain and poor posture can be relieved by other means. In many cases, strengthening and stretching your back can both reduce and prevent lower back pain. Yoga provides several exercises that are good for your spine.
If you’re dealing with a tight, lower back, here are five yoga poses that can help alleviate your discomfort.
Standing Forward Bend
Stand upright with your feet spread about as far apart as your hips. Slightly bend your knees, folding your torso forward and over your thighs. Aim to touch your belly to your legs. Allow your arms to drop toward the floor and your head to hang freely. Hold this pose for 15 breaths.
Lie with your back flat on the floor and bend your knees. Set your feet flat on the floor and move them back as close to your tailbone as possible. While exhaling, press your feet and arms into the floor while pushing your tailbone upward, firming your buttocks and lifting them from the floor. Keep your thighs and feet parallel. Stay in this pose for 30 to 60 seconds, releasing with an exhale and slowly rolling your spine to the floor.
Begin on your hands and knees, with your back in the tabletop position, your shoulders over your wrists and your hips over your knees. Keep your fingers spread wide. Inhale and go into the cow position, lifting your head and tailbone and allowing your belly to drop toward the floor. Next, exhale into the cat position, lifting your abdomen and rounding your spine as if you’re raising it toward the ceiling. Tuck your chin into your chest. With each inhale, sink back into the cow position, and return to the cat position with each exhale. Repeat five to 10 times.
Starting from the tabletop position (as described above), tuck your toes and straighten your legs. Lift your hips and bring your body into a triangle or tent shape. Move your hands forward slightly, if needed. If you feel more than a gentle stretch in your back, or if your hamstrings are so tight (or short) that your back rounds, bend your knees slightly. Remain in this position for 10 breaths.
Lying on your back, hug your knees to your chest and slowly lower your knees to the right until your right leg is touching the floor. Keep your legs stacked together and both shoulders in contact with the floor. Extend both arms out along your side, turning your face to the left side. Hold for five breaths, then repeat on the other side.
Yoga can help relieve and prevent lower back pain by building up the muscles of your back, releasing any tension you’re holding in your lower back and improving your posture, balance and body alignment. During each of these yoga poses, you should feel no more than a gentle stretch. You should not feel pain. As always, consult with your doctor before beginning any exercise regimen. And, if your lower back pain persists, contact Houston spine surgeon Dr. Kushwaha today.