Does yoga help back pain? This is a question I hear a lot. Today, I will discuss the benefits of yoga for all you back pain sufferers out there (this includes me, too). If you struggle with back pain, yoga might be just what you need to get the drug free pain relief you are looking for.
**Pssst…At the end of this post, I will give you a link to some simple yoga poses you can do at home.
I have been dealing with back problems for many years, and it wasn’t until somewhat recently that I started to understand how yoga can help. My issues are mostly on the right side of my body. When I get sciatic nerve pain, it runs down my right leg, even into my toes.
I have had several back injuries over the years, and, unfortunately, I sit a lot during the day, which is an excellent recipe for tight hips. The muscles on the side of my hips, including the gluteus medius and piriformis, are very tight. These muscles on the outer hip can pull on your pelvis and affect spinal alignment.
I actually had a chiropractor tell me that he had never seen anyone with glute medius muscles as tight as mine. YIKES!
I do my best to sit as little as possible during the day, but I do have to sit down occasionally. I use a sit-stand workstation (at home and at my office), and I get out for several walks during the day. I try to be a good kid in that respect, but still, I end up sitting on my commute to and from work, and I can’t stand all day long.
How does yoga help back pain?
Practicing yoga involves using breathing and relaxation techniques, which is fantastic not just for back pain, but also to help destress after a long day of work. Yoga can also help to stretch and strengthen muscles AND improve posture.
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This process of stretching and strengthening the muscles in your lower back and legs brings increased blood flow and nutrients to that area, which helps repair injured tissue. Among the healing benefits of yoga, there are a number that contribute to decreasing back pain.
Yoga can help in the following ways:
- Speed up recovery from an injury
- Help to prevent injuring yourself again
- Helps to work out muscle imbalances and improve strength
How long should you spend doing yoga?
I have participated in many yoga classes, and they seem to go on forever. I think that is because I am not a yogi by nature, or I have a short attention span.
I can go to the gym and workout for more than an hour, no problem, but put me in a class setting for an hour, and I struggle. How did I even make it through school?
The great thing about yoga is you don’t have to spend an hour or longer in a hot and sweaty yoga class unless of course, you want to. You can start with as little as 10 minutes per day to see results.
I have been watching short yoga videos online and have noticed a significant improvement in my hip tightness and flexibility. I believe that doing a small amount of yoga on a regular basis can provide substantial benefits.
How often should you practice yoga?
This will depend on you and your schedule. Some folks practice yoga every day, it’s their jam, and they swear by it. Other people practice occasionally. I have never been one to practice yoga consistently until I started following a steady diet of short 10 minute sessions about five days per week.
It’s up to you if you want to find a class in your area, or if you want to try some online videos. One great aspect of going to a class is the instructors can help you maintain proper form.
If you can follow along, the online videos I have found do an excellent job of teaching how to perform the poses. I prefer online videos because then I can do them at home on my own time.
Balance and flexibility
These are two of the primary reasons I practice yoga. I am looking for improved balance, stability, and flexibility. I have always had tight muscles, and I didn’t realize that could be harming my back. I have learned that tight muscles pulling all kinds of directions can mess up spinal alignment.
Does yoga actually work?
Over the course of one year, this study assessed people with chronic back pain who either practiced yoga or physical therapy. The study showed that after three months, these groups were less likely to use pain medication and had improved pain levels.
Conclusion: Does yoga help back pain?
My experience has been very positive. I have been focusing mostly on my lower body, even more specifically on my hamstrings and hips. I have made improvements in range of motion, and I feel better, meaning less tightness in my problem areas.
One thing to note, if you are like me and are super tight, you can, or may need to, modify some yoga poses. Sometimes the poses can be a bit too much too soon, or my body literally cannot perform them at this stage.
As promised, here is a link to some examples you can do at home.
If you are interested in checking out a great online yoga platform, you can read my review here.
Yoga has and will continue to be part of my regimen in my fight against back pain.
What is your experience with yoga?
Have you tried yoga for back pain?