Yoga poses can help relieve chronic pain in the lower back. One of the most common reasons for doctor visits, lower back pain can negatively affect one’s quality of life . Although many patients take over-the-counter or even prescribed medications to treat their chronic lower back pain, yoga can be an effective and natural solution without the adverse side effects that are often associated with the use of medicated pain relievers.
Yoga isn’t new—although it is trendy—and has been around for hundreds of years. There is research that backs up the claim that yoga can be beneficial for pain relief. In one largely cited study, researchers followed three groups of participants who were treating lower back pain over a 12-week period. The groups either completed yoga, partook in conventional physical therapy, or followed a self-help book. When all three groups were compared, those in the yoga group showed more improvement than the other two groups.
Yoga is beneficial to everyone—including those suffering from lower back pain—because it increases muscle strength and flexibility, reduces muscle tension, decreases fear and avoidance of movement, and reduces psychological stress.
Now that you have a better understanding of how yoga can work to improve your health, take a look at some poses you can try.
Supine twisting: Lay on your back with both knees to your chest. Extend one leg straight out and keep the other in place. Twist the bent knee over the straight leg and try to get the bent knee as close to the floor as possible. Hold this position, then do the same with the opposite leg.
Matsyasana twist: Sitting on the floor upright, keep one leg straight out in front and bend the other knee, placing your foot on the floor. Cross the bent leg over the straight leg. If your left leg is stretched out, your right foot will be on the outside of your left knee. Now, bend the straight leg so that the heel of your foot comes towards your buttocks. Gently twist your torso so you’re looking to the side of your outer thigh. Hold this position, then do the same for the other leg.
Crescent twist: Stand in a forward lunge—forward knee is bent and your back leg is straight. Twist your torso and fold forward so your elbow is on the outside of your forward knee. Hold this position, release, and switch legs.
Wind-relieving pose: Lay on your back, hug your knees to your chest, and hold.
Child’s pose: Sit on your knees upright and fold forward with arms stretched out in front of you. Try to bring your head as close to the mat as possible.
Backbends: Perform this move laying on your back with both arms above your head. Bend your knees and ensure your feet are flat on the ground. Now press your hands down and push yourself upward so that you are in an upside-down U (known as a bridge). Your head should be dangling between your arms. Hold this position for a few seconds.
Raised leg pose: While on your back, extend your arms above your head. Now raise both legs directly upwards so you’re staring at your toes. Your body should be in a 90-degree angle.
Breathing pose: Sit on your bottom, fold in your legs, and rest your hands on each knee. Close your eyes and focus on your breath.
Sun salutation: Standing with both feet touching, bring your hands together (palm to palm) and place them at your heart. Keeping your hands together (interlacing the fingers if necessary), exhale and raise your arms upward. Slowly bend backward (gently) while keeping your arms stretched above your head.
Cow pose: Get down on all fours with hands shoulder width apart, your wrists right under your shoulders and your fingers spread wide. Your knees should be hip width apart and right under your hips. Bring your chest forward and up towards the ceiling by creating a dip in your back (the middle of your back should be lower than your shoulders and hips).
Angry cat: Reverse the cow position. From all fours, pull your navel in and up to round out your spine, arching away from the ground. Try to reach your hips back toward your ankles. Moving gently from cow to cat pose is a good way to create flow in your back muscles.
Pelvic tilt: Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet on the floor. Inhale, then flatten your back into the floor as you slowly exhale. You should feel your tailbone lift a little. Inhale as you relax onto the floor.
These are just some yoga poses that can help ease lower back pain. If you are finding it difficult to complete these poses on your own, you may want to sign up for some classes so that an instructor can guide and demonstrate the poses for you.
Remember, the more you practice yoga, the more your lower back pain will improve.