As we age, non-specific, lower back pain can all too often suddenly present. Whether its bad posture over many years, too much gardening, bending down incorrectly, an accident or just life itself, the number of clients who present with 'non-specific lower back pain" is increasing. Add to that those who know why they have lower back pain -a fall, a sports injury or similar, this is really a common complaint. YOGA can help. As long as your physician has confirmed that you are ok to practice then yoga may be what your back is looking for!
Don't listen to me only, according to Harvard Health Publishing, "The popular mind-body practice [of yoga] can be one of the best ways to soothe an aching low back, as long as you are careful".
KEY TO KNOW: Of course you need to practice with a qualified instructor, one who has in-depth anatomy knowledge and can tailor the practice to your needs and ensure no strain or pain for you. This is crucia (500 RYT is best, but 200 RYT can be as knowledgable in some cases). If your yoga teacher doesn't ask for a medical history - LEAVE! IMMEDIATELY!! A disclaimer doesn't cut it. They are only trying to cover themselves and YOU don't know what YOU DON'T KNOW. Right? For example, did you know that held inversions are not recommended for those with glaucoma or high blood pressure?? Or that those with high or low blood pressure or those who are pregnant should roll to the left at the end of practice and not the right? Or what about someone with a hip replacement? Can they try Eagle? NOOOO!!!. These are just a couple of examples of DO NOT's which you, as the student, you will not necessarily know and therefore need the guidance of a qualified teacher.
We, as teachers need to know a little about your body and you in order to ensure the practice is safe for you and will not cause a flare up in [a] condition. We will give you options for each posture or alternatives for those you should not practice. Its all about engaging the same muscles and areas of the body, but maybe doing something different to others simply to keep you safe and injury free. If however you are that A-type, competitive personality and choose to ignore your teacher, do so at your own peril.
SO BACK TO THE BACK!. How can yoga help? Well when practiced with a qualified practitioner (500+ RYT is recommended for a more in- depth understanding of the anatomy) you can use several postures to release the lumber spine, sacroiliac joint and ease pain and tension. King pigeon, or upward pigeon, long forward folds, a combination of bridge and pascimottonasa. These postures help to build core strength and work to release tension, so a win- win for back pain sufferers - IF instructed and transitioned correctly - KEY KEY KEY.
Find a gentle yoga practice which will help to introduce you and practice overtime to build and maintain back strength and flexibility. It's also one of the more effective tools for helping reduce lower back pain, which as I mentioned earlier, is one of the most common source of pain and disability among older adults. "Yoga helps strengthen and stretch back muscles that might be tight, which improves mobility," says Dr. Lauren Elson, medical editor of the Harvard Special Health Report An Introduction to Yoga (/yo).
Yoga involves a series of poses, also called postures, and emphasizes breathing techniques. The postures teach you to stretch and strengthen your muscles, which helps reduce muscular tension, build flexibility and strength, and improve balance and bone strength (Key for older ladies who are more prone to osteoporosis, especially post-menopause). In yoga, you should use your muscles to first create a solid foundation for movement - creation space - and then follow proper form that slowly lengthens and stretches your body in to the form - or into the space you have created. For example, when you perform a seated spinal twist, which can be quite therapeutic for low back pain, the point is not to rotate as fast and far as possible, but to create the space with an inhale and rotate through the exhale to minimise pull or pressure. Lengthening always to ensure the vertebrae are not crushed and lengthens to grow a little bit taller each time. "Activate your core muscles and feel as though the spine is lengthening. Then twist slowly until you feel resistance, and hold for as long as it's comfortable," says Dr. Elson.(Harvard Health).
I have clients who were recommended to yoga by their physio or osteopath and, since they have been with La Croix Yoga they have not returned to their practitioner. (or their practitioner reached out to me as she was thrilled with the progress that a chair yoga student of 78 was making and the improvement in lympathic draingage). All from a few stretches and twists.
So if non-specific or specific lower back pain is stopping you from getting out and doing some gently, beneficial exercise, maybe you have never thought about yoga or think you shouldn't / couldn't do it.... think again. Longevity needs mobility, if you keep moving you will be right as rain and fit as a fiddle.
See you on the mat - Namaste!!