Developed over 5,000 years ago, yoga is one of the best time-tested forms of back pain exercise. Yoga is not only a strength-building program; it uses postures called poses to stretch muscles, elongate the spine and build strength. Well-known benefits of yoga include strengthening the core muscles, increasing flexibility, correcting bad posture, elevating mood and increasing focus.
Much of the back pain people experience today is the result of well-established habits. Sitting for hours a day in front of a computer or desk with bad posture creates muscle tension and rigidity. Years of poor posture can distort the spine’s curvature, causing back pain and possible disc and joint damage. Correcting bad posture should, then, be one of the goals of back pain exercise.
Many of the poses assumed during yoga target the core muscles that are responsible for supporting the spine and balancing the whole body. A strong core allows you to maintain correct posture throughout the day. This prevents or corrects strain on the lower back muscles, which support the upper body’s weight alone if the muscles in the stomach, pelvis and buttocks are not assisting.
Lower back pain can be caused by tension in the muscles of the hips, particularly the hip flexors. These muscles are shortened when we sit, and become rigid if we do not stretch them frequently. Yoga offers a variety of hip opening stretches designed to alleviate hip tension, which in turn eliminates pull on the lower back muscles.
There are a few popular misconceptions about yoga that may cause some to think it is outside their realm of possibility. One is that all forms of yoga require meditation. While mental energy in the form of focus and concentration is a central component of yoga, there are a number of types of yoga whose focus is on strength-building rather than meditation. If you have trouble clearing your head, this does not mean there is not a yoga form for you.
Another misconception is that yoga practitioners must be as flexible as contortionists. The purpose of any kind of lesson is to instill knowledge or capacity that is not already possessed. Yoga will increase your flexibility, but you do not need to be flexible to begin yoga lessons. There is a variety of levels available to suit people of different capacities.
Yoga is a well-rounded, whole-body approach to back pain exercise. Its attention to the whole body is critical, since back pain can be caused by a problem in another part of the body, such as the hips or legs. People with chronic back pain should consult a medical professional before embarking upon an exercise program, and should pursue yoga under the guidance of a qualified instructor.
For those who just began experiencing lower back pain and stiffness, or those who wish to avoid it, beginner’s yoga is a safe and effective program. This page also has a link to free online courses. If you are unable to access instructed classes, this gives you another option. As with any form of exercise, if you feel pain, stop.
Far more than just a back pain exercise, yoga practice can improve your quality of life in a variety of ways. It can easily be worked into today’s hectic lifestyle, since a few sessions a week are enough to produce results. Once you have been trained to perform poses with correct posture and breathing, you can practice alone on your own time at home. History, testimonials and, more recently, studies have supported the efficacy of yoga. Experience the benefits for yourself.