Ouch! Back Pain? Here's How Yoga Can Help.
Back pain is something many people experience. It can be uncomfortable and in some cases debilitating. Back pain can be caused by a lot of things, some of the most common are inflammation and stress, muscle tightness, weakened muscles in the back and poor posture. Luckily, these are things that yoga can work wonders for!
Inflammation and stress
Stress causes the release of cortisol - the “fight-or-flight” hormone. High levels of consistent cortisol can have detrimental effects on our health, including causing systemic inflammation, much of which collects in the shoulders and back. Yoga incorporates many postures, breathing techniques and mediations that are known to reduce stress levels during and beyond the time of practice. These techniques have even been shown to alleviate the symptoms of depression and anxiety!
Muscle tightness spreads throughout the body; tension in our hamstrings and glutes can cause pain in the lower back and spine. Tightness in the chest and shoulder area can cause slouching and poor posture- a known cause of back pain. The first step to alleviating any muscular pain is to improve flexibility around the affected area and throughout the body. Any style of yoga will be beneficial for this, but if you’re experiencing a lot of discomfort you might consider a slower less intense style of yoga like Hatha or Yin yoga.
Many of the poses used in yogic practices have been shown to strengthen muscles. Back pain, particularly lower back pain, can be caused by weakness in the spino-erectile muscles - the muscles supporting your spine. Holding difficult postures that engage different muscle groups and parts of the body improves strength and mobility. Many yoga poses require engagement of the abdominal muscles, a crucial area to focus on in order to alleviate and avoid back pain and injuries!
By improving muscle strength and flexibility, our posture is greatly impacted. Posture can also be improved by being mindful of how we sit and stand, perpetuating this benefit of yoga. Correct posture is a simple and effective way to keep spinal muscles healthy, helping to reduce the incidence of back and neck pain.
Now that we’ve established yoga can be beneficial for alleviating and avoiding back pain, click here to learn some postures and stress-reducing breathing exercises you can start using right away!
If you’re experiencing severe back pain and fear it may be something serious, stick to the experts and consult a physician. This article is not intended to replace the advice of a licensed expert and we always recommend checking with your doctor if you are experiencing any health-related issues!