There are many causes of back pain.
Activities such as sitting too long, lack of exercise, too much exercise, or simple wear and tear from too much repetitive motion can lead to back pain. Regardless of how your back pain came about there are four steps you can take to minimize the pain which you will find outlined along with other principles of back care in my book, Healing Our Backs with Yoga: an essential guide to back pain relief. To complement the book I was invited to create an online course thru Yoga U Online to help capture the guidance one might receive from me in an actual yoga class. In Yoga for a Healthy Back: Key Elements and Principles for Back Pain Relief you will enjoy a detailed power point presentation to build your understanding and confidence, along with four 30 minute practices where I will guide you to a safe and satisfying practice using breath and alignment cues anatomically proven to support relief from back pain.
First Step – Stop what you are doing.
Whether that means to stop pulling weeds in your garden, stop sitting at your desk, or stop doing the yoga pose that contributes to the pain… just simply stop. Ask yourself, “how am I moving, sitting, or standing that is causing my joints or nerves to pinch?” You might be collapsing your chest sitting at your desk thus putting excess weight on the 1st and 2nd lumbar vertebra stressing the facet joints and pushing the disks backward toward the spinal cord, or you could be doing the same to the lower lumbar vertebra L4 and L5 from hours of squatting and lifting in the garden. Whatever you are doing the remedy is to stop moving in the same direction and begin moving the opposite way. There are many examples of basic yoga poses to help you in my new book Healing Our Backs with Yoga.
Second Step – Suspend Judgment.
As human beings our survival mechanisms are very strong so when pain arises there is a knee-jerk response. We tend to ask, “how did this happen? What did I break? Worst case scenario? Surgery?, Yikes!” As fear and tension builds, the pain becomes worse.
Most of what people call chronic back pain happens slowly over time and is often made worse as a result of emotional stress. So when you find yourself in a stressful situation remember that fear creates tension causing us to hold our breath which tenses the diaphragm, the throat and the muscles of our back. The more tension we carry, the more the connective tissue blinds down pinches and irritates the nerves.
When you find yourself in pain, don’t resist. There is nothing you can do right now to fix the problem, except let go and suspend judgment – of yourself, your body, your back, and your life situation.
Third Step – The Gift of the breath.
Because of the stress management programs of the 1970s and 1980s, most people are aware that deep breathing reduces stress, but how often do you really stop to breathe? And what happens when you do?
In yoga we know the breath connects the mind to the body. That when we turn our attention to a deep relaxed breath, we come fully present to ourselves in the moment. When under stress or in pain, our breath becomes short and shallow, The brain goes on alert, the heart rate goes up, and our blood chemistry changes. When we intentionally stop and deepen our breath, consciously relaxing our muscles and turning our attention inward, the stress cycle reverses.
If you are experiencing lower back pain and you begin with the alternate knee to chest pose lying flat on the floor, and simply add several deep inhalations and exhalations you will feel your back pain begin to diminish.
Fourth Step- Wait for the Release.
Our bodies know how to heal. Deep within us is the wisdom of nature all its intricacies and beauty, always working to bring our system back to balance. Breathe and be patient.
So the next time you find yourself feeling stuck or on the verge of negative pain in a yoga pose, use the four steps. Before the negative pain begins, stop-take a breath, suspend judgment, breathe, and wait for something to release. Something unexpected may let go as you enter into the realm of self acceptance and self compassion.
In honor of the blessing of yoga, Namaste. Lillah
Discover a wealth of information and Lillah’s book Healing Our Backs with Yoga: an essential guide to back pain relief.
Purchase her Yoga U Online course to help capture the guidance one might receive in an actual yoga class – Yoga for a Healthy Back: Key Elements and Principles for Back Pain Relief. Consider an individual private session to address your particular back care needs.