Two Yoga Asanas to Prevent Low Back Pain

Prevention of Low Back Pain with Yoga Asanas

Low back pain is the most common problem I see in my physical therapy clinic.  In fact, it is the most prevalent musculoskeletal condition in the world and the leading cause of disability in the United States for people under 45 years of age!¹ ²   Therefore, it makes a lot of sense to try to prevent it from happening in the first place. 

Before we talk about prevention, lets’ talk a little about what contributes to low back pain in the first place. Abnormal posture is one of the leading causes of back pain.  Think about how much of the day you sit with rounded posture; you may even be slouching as you read this blog entry.   Long term use of faulty posture causes many different issues in the spine: ³

  •  Compression on vertebrae, increasing the risk of compression fractures
  •  Uneven disc pressure, leading to herniated disks
  • Muscles and ligaments become overstretched, causing pain and weakness
  •  Decreased circulation, slowing healing time
  • Less shock absorption, wearing out the structures of the spine

 So, how do we correct posture?  Strengthening and increasing awareness of the spinal extensor muscles.  These muscles run the entire length of the spine and can be exercised very effectively with yoga asanas.   In fact, I actually teach a two-day continuing education class to other therapists specifically about treating low back pain with yoga.

 I recommend practicing the two following asanas daily in order to prevent back pain:

LOCUST

Begin on your stomach with your arms down at your sides, palms turned up.  Make sure your legs are fairly close together.

 Lift your head, chest, arms and legs up while maintain length in the neck.  While holding this position, reach your arms down towards your feet.  Also, be sure to keep your knees straight.

 Hold this lifted posture for 10-30 seconds to start, work up to 90 seconds.  Repeat 2-3 times.  You may place a pillow or folded towel under your pelvis for comfort.

COBRA

Begin on your stomach with your hands palms down directly under your shoulders (push-up position)

Using primarily your back muscles, lift up your spine as shown in the picture.  Once your back muscles cannot lift you any higher, begin to use your arm muscles to help. 

Hold the position, focusing on pulling the shoulder blades down and keeping length in the neck for 10-30 seconds.  Repeat 2-3 times.

References

  1. Galantino M, et al. (2004). The Impact of Modified Hatha Yoga on Chronic Low Back Pain: A Pilot Study.  Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine. 10, 56-59.
  2. Galantino M, et al. (2004). The Impact of Modified Hatha Yoga on Chronic Low Back Pain: A Pilot Study.  Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine. 10, 56-59.
  3. Moronea, N.E. et al (2008). Mindfulness meditation for the treatment of chronic low back pain in older adults: A randomized controlled pilot study. Pain. 134, 310-319.

 

Photo Credits: yogajournal.com and personal photo

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5 Comments (+add yours?)

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    Nov 01, 2011 @ 14:12:28

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