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Let us go on a journey, down the spine ... all the way down. Where do you reach? The region that is most vulnerable to stress and strain. Yes! I’m talking about the lumbar region or in more common terminology – the lower back.
The Mayo Clinic states that most people will experience low back pain at some point in their lives. The Spine-health states that lower back pain can be caused by a variety of problems with any parts of the complex, interconnected network of spinal muscles, nerves, bones, discs or tendons in the lumbar spine.
Keeping that in mind – let's see how most of us spend our day:
The alarm rings and you start your day with a cup of coffee. You sit at the table to have a bite of breakfast. You then sit in your car and drive to work. At work you continue sitting, either at your desk or in a meeting or even during your power lunch. Then, you finally get home from work and get friendly with your couch. Sitting. Sitting. Sitting...
Back pain, a side effect of modern lifestyles
From an anatomical vantage point, all the sitting causes the hamstrings and the illiopsoas muscles to contract and puts pressure on the lower back. The pressure builds and eventually is the cause of lower back pain for many.
Now, let us take the view of an athlete.
They lift weight, exercise frequently, run, jump and perform movements that keep the body in good shape. Are they immune to lower back pain? The answer is No.
Strenuous, intense workouts produce stress on the lower back. All these activities when repeated over time without stretching and releasing the tight muscles creates tension within the muscle fibers and may lead to injury. So, make sure you don’t over-strain the body! How? Just listen. Your body will tell you when you've had enough.
Assuming that you belong to the sedentary nine-to-five employee category – exercise is your "prescription" to reduce lower back pain and keep you fit. Add these 5 Yoga Poses to your daily exercise regime to strenthen and protect your low back.
If you have a slipped disc in the lower back or sciatica problems, avoid forward bends as they can make your condition worse. Proceed with caution.
Heal your back pain with these 5 Simple Yoga Poses:
Also refered to as "cobra pose," this effective back strengthening exercise is also good for your upper body and heart.
• Lie down with your tummy facing the ground.
• Stretch your legs as far as you can while placing your palms, on the floor right beside your chest, a little below your armpits.
• Keeping the lower body on the ground, lift your torso with your arms, from where they have been placed (right beside your chest).
• Raise your upper half of the body as high as you can while your face is facing straight (keep your neck lengthed ... don't crunch!) like a cobra that has lifted its head and upper half to be alert. Check out this Cobra Pose Video for a visual demonstration.
The Hamstring Stretch
• Lie flat on the floor, slowly bend your right knee into your chest and place a strap or rolled-up towel on the midfoot or the arch of your foot creating a strap.
• Straighten your leg toward the ceiling.
• Press out through both heels.
• If the lower back feels strained, bend the left knee and place the foot on the ground.
• Hold for 3-5 minutes and then switch to the left let for 3-5 minutes
The Tree Pose
• This simple balancing technique starts with your feet parallel to each other and hip distance apart.
• Extend your arms as far as you can above your head.
• Shift your body weight onto your (standing) left leg as you plant your foot to the ground.
• Slowly lift your other leg up and place the sole of the lifted leg on to the inner left thigh, slightly higher than knee level with the toes pointed downwards.
• Reach your palms, clasped together, to the sky (like an over head and outstretched namaskar).
• Stay in this pose with one leg planted to the ground, hands stretched with your back straight for at least a minute before you shift to the other leg.
• Repeat the process about 5 times – so that you balance on each leg for a total of 10 minutes – a 10 minute asan that will surely help flex your lower and upper body. See a Tree Pose Video here.
The Bridge Pose
• Lie down on the floor with your back flat against the floor's surface.
• Keep your legs close with your feet together and palms facing downwards by the sides of your body.
• Slowly lift your buttocks and your hips up while your shoulders are still on the ground.
• Lift your chin away from the chest.
• Then clasp your hands under your arched back, forming a bridge of sorts. See a Bridge Pose Video here.
The Simple Sevasan
This is probably the easiest pose of the bunch.
• Just simply lie down flat on your back.
• The trick here is not just to lie down or sleep, but to rest your back and breathe consciously – relaxing the muscles (in this case focusing on the muscles of the back) consciously intending to supply fresh oxygen to the back muscles to heal, release and relax.
• This is a calming pose for relaxation – much like meditation in a sitting posture.
• Feel the air filling your lungs and the oxygen flowing through your body – this is a form of meditation. Practice this pose after every yoga and exercise class to balance your body, mind and spirit. Check out this Beginner Yoga Video for more visuals.
• These 5 easy back exercises will surely help in easing back pain as well as strengthening the muscles of not just your back but also your legs, arms and core.
• Do you have a yoga pose that helps with low back pain? Share below!