Yoga works for lower back pain

Yoga helps alleviating lower back pain. Yoga works organically and holistically; without taking the aid of medication and invasive interventions. More than 70% of all the physiotherapy exercises prescribed for lower and complete back, are yoga asana and its variations.

Amongst all the back pains, lower back pain is the commonest type of pain. 85% of people have had a lower back pain, one time or the other.

Low back pain (LBP) is a common disorder involving muscles and bones of the low back (starts below the rib cage). Low back pain causes more disability than any other condition worldwide and accounts for almost 50% of all work related disability.

 

Classification of lower back pain: LBP can be classified by duration as
  1. Acute (< 6 weeks)
  2. Subacute (6-12 weeks)
  3. Chronic (>12 weeks)

 

Causes of lower back pain
  1. Malignancy
  2. Infections – Abscess, Osteomyelitis
  3. Inflammatory – Ankylosis spondylitis, psoriatic arthritis, reactive arthritis
  4. Musculoskeletal – Mechanical (muscle spasm, muscle strain, spondylitis), herniated disc, spinal canal stenosis and fracture

Red flags

  1. Leg weakness
  2. Fever with chills
  3. Continuous abdominal pain
  4. Weight loss that is unexplained
  5. Pain with coughing/ sneezing/ urinating
  6. Sudden loss of bowel and bladder control
  7. You should immediately seek a doctor if you have pain with following symptoms:

 

Symptoms of lower back pain
Possible cause Pain type Radiation Aggravating factors Relieving factors 
1 Muscle Strain Dull and achy Around groin, buttock and upper thigh Movement of injured area Rest, Medication
2 Disc Herniation Severe burning, tingling Travels to Buttock, leg and foot Prolonged standing, sitting Walking
3 Degenerative Disc Disease Nagging to severe Prolonged sitting Walking, Changing position
4 Spondylolisthesis Muscle spasm, numbness &tingling Buttocks, back of thigh Bending backwards Sitting
5 SI Joint Disease Nagging to severe Low back, hip, groin, thigh Prolonged sitting Lying, Reclining
6 Facet Joint Arthritis Pain + stiffness Extended activity Rest
7 Lumbar Spinal Stenosis Mild to severe Leg pain with walking walking Sitting
8 Spinal Compression Fracture Sudden onset, sharp Standing, walking Lying
 Who is at the risk of low back pain?
  1. Overweight individuals
  2. Persons with sedentary lifestyle
  3. Jobs requiring heavy weight lifting

 

Treatment for lower back pain

Treatment of low back pain depends on cause, history, type and severity of pain. Main aims of treatment are:

  1. To reduce inflammation
  2. To improve flexibility of spine
  3. To correct postural alignment
  4. To relieve pain and stiffness associated with pain
  5. To improve strength of lumbar spine musculature

 

Various treatment options available are…

1. Heat/ cold packs :can be used to reduce inflammation

2. Massage: massage combined with medication and exercise can help to reduce muscle spasm

3. Bed Rest: these days doctor recommends active bed rest than complete bed rest i.e. bed rest with returning to normal activities as soon as possible as studies suggest that rest any more than a day or two can actually make pain worse.

4. Medication: medicines are used to reduce pain and inflammation, some medicines inhibits transmission of pain signals to brain. Commonly used medicines are acetaminophen, ibuprofen, pain relieving creams can be useful

5. Manipulation: osteopathic doctors use manipulation to treat low back pain by applying pressure with hands to bones of low back region.

6. Surgery: preferred for long lasting pain interfering with activities of daily living and if conservative treatment doesn’t help much

7. Yoga for back pain

  • Improve Spinal Mobility
  • Improve Muscle Strength
  • Yoga therapy aims at relieving pain and functional limitation
  • It minimizes, heal and ultimately correct underlying physical malfunctions through a series of postures

 

Yoga for lower back pain

The article is focussed on yoga for lower back pain. Read on…

Yoga asana for lower back pain can be both preventive and curative. If low back pain is caused by structural defect then it is always better to consult a doctor before you go further with asana.

1. Yoga poses for lower back relaxation

Many times Lower Back Pain is caused by tension in muscles which can be relieved by:

  • Advasana
  • Shavasana
  • Makarasana
2. Yoga for strengthening low back musculature
  • Marjariasana
  • Bhujangasana
  • Shashakasana
  • Ardha-matsyendrasana
  • After these backward bending asanas can be done
  • Chakrasana
  • Dhanurasana
  • Ushtranasana
  • Ardha chakrasana
3. Yoga to reduce sciatica pain

It is advisable to start the session with supine lying with your calves resting on the seat of chair. Take a few deep breaths, go slow with all asanas, do the poses for 5-10 breaths on each side and end the session by resting your caves on chair. Few of the yoga asana to reduce sciatica pain are:

  • Apanasana (Knee to chest pose)
  • Sucirandhrasana (Eye of the needle pose)
  • Sputa padangusthasana (Reclining hand to big toe pose)
  • Eka pada rajakapotasana (One legged king pigeon pose)
4. Yoga for muscle strain
  • Acute muscle strain – Yoga is not recommended
  • Chronic pain- Move into yoga poses gently, use long hold times in poses, perform deep breathing in poses and end with shavasana with bolster under knees and folded blanket under low back to support. Spinal lengthening, forward folding and back bending poses are recommended
5. Yoga to relieve compression in low back

It is done by lengthening of back extensor muscles. Iyyengar yoga is noteworthy because it relies on external support through the use of props which enables the students to rest the injured area and achieve correct postural alignment. Therein teachers assist transit from passive/ supported poses to active poses without support. Iyyengar yoga specialist recommends following sequence to relieve compression in low back:

  • Dandasana
  • Shavasana II
  • Janu-shirshasana
  • Urdhva-dandasana
  • Pashcimottanasana
  • Adho-mukha-virasana
  • Sputa-pavanamuktasana
  • Pavanmuktasana on the bench
  • Supported garbha-pindasana (with ropes)
  • Ardha-uttanasana over halasana box and stool
  • Adho-mukha-shavasana (With upper wall ropes for traction)
6. Yoga for Lumber Disc Herniation

There are three levels for the treatment of lumbar disc herniation. Start with level 1 and slowly progress to level 3. You should move from 1st level to 2nd only if you are comfortable doing this.

Level 1

  • Aadvasana
  • Shavasana
  • Makarasan (Crocodile pose)
  • Jyestikasana (Superior pose)

Level 2

  • Marjariasana
  • Bhujangasana
  • Ardha chakrasana
  • Ardha shalabhasana

Level 3

  • Ushtrasana
  • Shalabhasana
  • Dhanurasana

In all levels advasana, shavaasana, jyestikasana and makarasana can be used as resting poses.

Note: any forward bending asanas are avoided till the symptoms resolved completely

7. Yoga for Lumbar Spondylosis

Here aim of yoga asana is to improve spinal mobility and to strengthen lumbar musculature. Some of the yoga poses to improve lumbar spondylosis are:

  • Cobra pose
  • Child pose
  • Locust pose
  • Bridge pose
  • Cat and cow pose
  • Yoga poses to improve strength
8. Yoga for Spondylosis

Main aim of yoga is to reduce pain, which can be reduced by forward bending posture such as sasankasana breathing, tiger breathing, pavanmuktasana.

Note: Avoid acute backward bending postures i.e. chakrasana, ardhasana, bhujangasana also kapalbhati should be avoided for few days.

9. Yoga for Ankylosis Spondylosis

Here the aim of yoga is to…

  • Improve spinal mobility
  • Improve chest expansion
  • Correct postural alignment
  • Improve flexibility and strength of spinal musculature and hip flexors.

Recommended yoga poses are…

  • Cow pose
  • Cat pose
  • Pelvic tilts
  • Bridge pose
  • Crescent lunge
  • Sun salutation
  • Supine twisting
  • Downward facing dog
  • Child’s pose and child’s pose plus

 

It is recommended that one should always start with easy poses and then slowly progress to more complex ones. It is recommended to listen to your body. Mild stretch in any pose is ok but there should not be any pain in any of the poses.

Apart from yoga for lower back pain, one should also perform pranayama and practices to improve prana in body, as proper flow of prana itself relieves pain and stiffness.

 

Writers Note: Back pain, specifically the lower back pain, has become the single biggest cause of disability and reason of missed work, worldwide. I wish I could put all the the information in the article BUT it is important to consult a wellness expert, to get the back and the body, back into shape.

I see a few yoga and wellness studios offering specialised classes, lectures and workshops, to help correct the back issues. Yoga asana and related modalities work to help overcome this debilitating health issue.

Aashish Nanda

I am not a Spiritual Guru. I am not a Healer. I am not a Coach. I am not a Transformer. After trying to define myself, with various labels, I realized that I am simply a Muser... I just pen down what appeals to me. Please consult a professional guide, in case you need any advice.

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