Yoga for Back Pain

Yoga is gaining popularity as a complementary therapeutic method to treat chronic or short-term back pain. Serval Hatha Yoga poses have been shown to increase flexibility, improve posture, relax tight and painful muscles (associated with upper-lower back) to address back strength and mobility issues.   

Various research studies mention that Yoga improves functional mobility, targeting the back extensor. Since Hatha Yoga requires isometric contraction of upper and lower back muscle groups to stabilize the body, these are helpful for improving muscular strength and relieving back pain. Yoga also promotes greater hip mobility that may translate into improved back muscle group coordination.

Practicing Yoga postures has been shown to reduce back pain perception. This implies that yoga may have a neuroprotective effect as yoga practitioners experience a significant increase in pain tolerance and a change in pain thresholds. With Pranayama, the calming effect of Yoga may lessen perceived stress, enhance relaxation and sleep to help back muscles recover soon. Just like Physical Therapy, Yoga Therapy for back pain needs to be personalized to yield finest results.  

How does Yoga for back pain work?

If a frequent recurrence of severe, lower back pain is observed, certain stretching Yoga poses are prescribed. These yoga poses reduce stiffness in lower muscles and promotes mobility, by initiating the range of motion. Asanas that focus on hamstring stretching, abdominal strengthening, should be part of the sufferer’s daily routine to provide the thick ‘belt of muscle’ around the spine.

In case, back (lower and upper) pain is mild and less severe, certain Yoga poses may help to relieve it by stretching the back, strengthening it and improving blood circulation to the spine and frozen nerves. However, if an episode of low back pain (in spite of practicing Yoga) has lasted between 2 and 6 weeks, a Physical therapy is strongly recommended.

Commonly prescribed Yoga poses for Back Pain

Uttanasana elongates the middle and lower back, stretches the hamstrings and calms the body. Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclining Bound Angle Pose) is also prescribed to relieve lower-body stiffness and combat fatigue. Cat/Cow, Plow Pose, Spinal Twist, Child’s Pose, Triangle Pose, Downward Dog, Eagle Pose, Seated Forward Fold, Locust Pose and Bow Pose are other commonly prescribed Hatha Yogas.  

Vajrasana (Thunderbolt Pose), Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose, variation) and Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend) are commonly recommended to sufferers with minor upper back pain.