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7 Yoga Poses to Help Reduce Back Pain

7 Yoga Poses to Help Reduce Back Pain

7 Yoga Poses to Help Reduce Back Pain

Key Takeaways

  • Many problems with the back and spine originate from poor posture and weakness in the back muscles
  • By mindfully practicing yoga, you can safely improve strength and posture while stretching tight and aching back muscles
  • Try one or all 7 of these yoga poses to help relieve back pain and release tension throughout your body!

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Prolonged periods of sitting can cause low back pain or worsen an existing back problem. It can also weaken the core and strain the discs and surrounding structures of the spine. Holding poses in yoga, however, can help to strengthen your back muscles and reduce your low back pain.

Looking to incorporate some yoga into your daily routine? Here are 7 poses to help you get started!

How Yoga Helps the Back

Yoga is one of the more effective exercises to help reduce back pain. This pain relief alternative helps to stretch and strengthen muscles that support the back and spine as well as the abdominal muscles. Neglecting to use your core while sitting for prolonged periods can put extra pressure on your lower back. The abdominal muscles help the body maintain proper upright posture and movement. When these muscles are well conditioned, back pain can be greatly reduced or avoided.

Many yoga poses help remove the pressure off your back by aligning and elongating your spine, allowing you to stretch comfortably. Individuals are instructed to hold yoga poses anywhere from 15 to 60 seconds. Within the pose, certain muscles flex, while others stretch, promoting relaxation and flexibility in muscles and joints. Another benefit to practicing yoga is that the movements can also help increase blood flow, allowing nutrients to flow in and toxins to flow out.

7 Yoga Poses to Try at Home

To get started, all you need is a floor mat. You can also use a block or strap during some of these yoga poses if your range of motion is limited.

 

TheraBand Exercise Mat

Aeromat Yoga Block

Stretch-Out Strap

 

Be sure to talk with your doctor before starting any new yoga program to identify any possible risks. Consistent practice will result in improved posture, increased balance, and proper alignment of the head, shoulders and pelvis. You may notice that your back muscles feel more relaxed and flexible the longer you hold the pose. Make sure to continue breathing – your muscles need oxygen!

 

Cat Cow

  1. This pose helps release tension along the spine. Start on your hands and knees with your wrists directly under your shoulders, and your knees directly under your hips.
  2. As you inhale, lift your chest to the sky and gently arch your back. Don't force your chin to your chest.
  3. As you exhale, pull your belly button into your spine. Lift your chin and chest, and gaze up toward the ceiling.

Sphinx Pose

  1. Lying on your belly, rest your forearms flat on the mat. Keep your elbows under the shoulders and chin on the floor.
  2. Press the forearms down into the floor and inhale, lifting the head and chest off the floor.
  3. As you inhale, squeeze the thighs and glutes, pressing the pubic bone down into the floor.
  4. Make sure to keep your elbows close to the sides, drop the shoulders down and back and press the chest forward.
  5. To release, exhale and slowly lower the chest and head to the floor.

Locust Pose

  1. Lie on your belly, chin resting on the floor, and arms alongside the body with the palms facing down.
  2. Squeeze the thighs and glutes, pressing the pubic bone down into the floor.
  3. Inhale and lift the legs, head, chest, and arms off the floor. Reach out through the fingers, toes and top of the head.
  4. Drop the shoulders down and back and press the chest forward.
  5. To release, exhale and slowly lower the chest, head, arms and legs to the floor. Rock the hips from side to side to release any tension in the low back.

Downward Facing Dog

  1. Start on all fours, hands and knees. Spread the palms wide, stack the shoulders over wrists.
  2. Ground down into the palms, raise the knees off the mat while shifting the stomach toward the thighs. Lift the hips up high, as the legs straighten. Keep toes pointing forward.
  3. Relax your head and neck and gaze back towards your feet. This pose is meant to lengthen the glutes, hamstrings, and calves and release tension from your back.

Extended Triangle

  1. Stand with your feet in a wide stance. Turn your right toes out 90 degrees to the right.
  2. Raise your arms to shoulder height, palms facing forward. Slowly begin to bend at the front hip, reaching forward over the right leg while engaging the core.
  3. Stabilize the left hip by squeezing the quadriceps and glutes while pressing the left hip toward the back of your mat. Extend through the top of your head to lengthen the spine.
  4. Windmill the arms down to stack the left shoulder over the right, extending the left arm toward the sky. The right hand can settle at the shin, ankle, or floor. Gaze up toward your left hand.
  5. To release, look down toward the floor and lift through the torso and rise with an inhale. Exhale to release your arms and knee. Repeat on the opposite side.

Child Pose

  1. Start by sitting on your heels with your knees wide and your toes touching.
  2. Lower your belly between your thighs and gently rest your forehead on the floor.
  3. Extend your arms with your palms facing down and lengthen from your hips through your fingertips.

Fish Pose

  1. Lying flat on your back, come up to your elbows with your forearms flat on the mat and your upper arms perpendicular to the floor.
  2. Keep your forearms in place and lift your chest up by rolling your shoulders back and tucking your shoulder blades firmly onto your back.
  3. Press your palms into the mat and lower the top of your head back until it comes to the floor.
  4. To come out, press strongly into your forearms and raise your head off the floor. Release your upper body to the mat.

3 Common Yoga Form Mistakes

While yoga can help relieve joint and muscle pain, it can also aggravate existing back problems if poses aren’t done right. Common mistakes can strain the muscles you aim to strengthen. Listening to your body is extremely important - don’t force any posture that could cause injury. Here are three mistakes you might be making during your practice and how to fix it!

 

Rounding the Spine

During a forward fold, it is most common for people to lead with their pelvis and bend at the waist. This pose ends up curving the back while collapsing the front part of your body to reach the toes. Rounding the spine like this can end up putting strain on the muscles tearing a ligament or rupturing a disc. When practicing a forward fold, avoid tilting from your spine and instead, tilt from your pelvis.

To practice a proper forward fold, bend forward with the pelvis and the upper body moving together as a unit. Keeping the knees soft, engage the core so that you create support for the lower back and control the position of the pelvis. Coming out of the stretch, lead with the chest first as you return to the neutral spine about halfway up. Then, move the upper body and pelvis together to return to standing. Reminder to keep the head in line with spine from the beginning of the movement to the very end.

 

Compressing the Lower Back

Backbends are the most common cause of yoga-related back injury. Most backbends get stuck in the lumbar spine. Compressing the vertebrae and weakening the spine, backbends can cause muscle spasms, back soreness, and possibly the vertebrae or nerves to become pinched.

 

To practice a proper backbend, keep your legs hip distance, pelvis neutral, and your shoulders stable and move in and out of the pose with control. Any time you practice a backbend, it’s important to use your legs and core to lengthen the spine. By putting more emphasis on elongating through the legs, it takes the pressure out of the lower back.

 

Forgetting Your Core

Your core muscles help stabilize your spine - so it’s important to keep them engaged at all times. Yoga poses that require you to twist your body can place pressure on the spinal discs as you quickly transition between movements. If you don’t use proper form, you can end up doing more damage.

When practicing twists, use your abdominal muscles to drive the movement. Do not go deeper into the stretch if you feel any tightness or pain. If you suffer from a bulging disc, avoid poses that involve twisting.

 

Whether you are living with chronic ailments or just want to strengthen and stretch your lower back, any of these yoga poses suggested above can help. Don’t suffer from lower back pains! Schedule 20-30 minutes each day to practice yoga and relieve any back pain you might be having.

References

1. Hauser, Annie. (2017). 7 Yoga Poses to Soothe Lower Back Pain. EveryDay Health. Retrieved from https://bit.ly/3Do8x7S

2. Kamson, Solomon. (2020). 6 Yoga Poses That Will Help You Avoid Back Injury. Spine Institute Northwest. Retrieved from https://bit.ly/3yhc6Ji

3. Spindler, Beth. (2020). Yoga for Lower Back Pain: Learn the Do’s and Don’t's. Yoga International. Retrieved from https://bit.ly/38ijHwx

Medical Disclaimer: The information provided on this site, including text, graphics, images and other material are for informational purposes only and are not intended to substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other healthcare professional with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition.