Back pain can be caused by sitting, standing, doing absolutely nothing or sprinting. It affects all ages regardless of activity level. It can come on quickly or over a long period of time. Sadly, 85% of the US population suffers from back pain. It’s the second most common reason for doctor visits in the US, following coughs and other respiratory infections. Back pain is the third most common reason for surgery and get this, failed back surgery syndrome is seen in 10-40% of patients who undergo back surgery. This means that not only does the surgery not fix the original problem but more issues result from surgeries than were present to begin with! Fewer than 5% of people with back pain actually make good candidates for surgery.
According to a recent article in the USA TODAY, “The U.S. health care system spends about as much each year on spine problems as it does on cancer.” With statistics like these, it’s no wonder that people are looking for alternative treatments for back pain. Before undergoing the knife, try this pain and pressure relieving yoga sequence a few times a week that also strengthens key muscles for optimum spine health.
Start with some deep breathing exercises, in and out of the nose, and continue this during each of the following poses for 3-5 breaths.
1. Child’s pose – Start on hands and knees and sit hips back towards heels. Keep knees together to create rounding over the legs and get into the thoracic spine. You can come back here between poses or as often as needed.
2. Cat/cow – From hands and knees, drop the belly to the mat as you look up arching the tail bone upward, then round the spine upward dropping the tailbone down as you look back to the thighs, like a cats back.
3. Downward facing dog – Come on to the balls of the feet and lift the hips up, then release the heels back and down toward the mat. This is another option to come back to in between poses.
4. Kneeling lunge right – Step right foot forward between the hands
Add twist – Lift your right hand up, keep the left hand by the right foot and rotate the chest into the thigh.
Repeat on the left side and come back child pose or down dog.
5. Warrior 1 – Bring the right foot between the hands and bend the right knee, release the back foot down to the mat and lift the body and arms up.
6. Triangle – Straighten the right leg and reach right hand forward and down to right leg. Left arm is up and chest is open to the side.
7. Twist triangle – Legs stay the same, switch the arms so left hand is down toward right leg and right arm is reaching up.
Repeat on left side.
8. Locust pose – Lie face down on your belly and lift the chest and legs up off the mat. You can take arms by your side, reaching fingers behind you.
9. One leg forward forward fold – Seated, extend the left leg out in front of you and bend the right knee, letting it fall open to side. Reach forward and fold softly over the legs. Switch sides after 3 breaths.
10. Knees To Chest – Lie down on your back and hug knees up into chest.
11. Supine Twist – Keep the knees bent and drop them to the right as you turn your head to the left. Switch sides.
12. Corpse Pose – I recommend placing a pillow or blanket under the knees as you lie down on your back with arms by side.
Jenn Bodnar is co-founder of Yoga Digest Magazine and has a genuine belief that yoga can benefit everyone. She is 200ERYT having attended multiple teacher trainings, facilitating yoga teacher trainings and studying and practicing yoga since 1999. Jenn is an avid fitness professional, who has taught and managed group fitness for many years. As a former competitive triathlete, gymnast and dancer Jenn loves the balance of strength, flexibility, perseverance and freedom that a yoga practice provides. She loves being active and outdoors with her family and friends. Jenn is a self proclaimed health food chef who hopes to leave a positive footprint by inspiring others to always choose happiness. “Watching people grow through yoga is one of the most amazing miracles to witness.”