If you can’t get through your day without taking an OTC pain medication for lower back pain, you’re not alone.
Lower back pain (LBP) is the leading cause of disability across the globe. It hinders your concentration, causes stress and keeps you from fully functioning in day-to-day life. Fortunately, yoga addresses the physical and mental effects of lower back pain. Whether you deal with chronic LBP or have a sensitive lower back that tends to go out of whack every now and then, yoga can improve your condition.
Disclaimer: If not practiced correctly, yoga can aggravate or even cause back pain. Be sure to consult your physician before trying yoga and practice under a qualified instructor.
Whether you realize it or not, you rely on the health of your lower back. Sitting, bending, walking and even laying down without pain all depend on the muscles, ligaments and bones in your lower back working together. Lower back pain happens when there is a mechanical issue or injury in your back. Longstanding poor posture, lifting a heavy object or simply twisting wrong can all cause lower back pain. However, sprains and strains, herniated discs, and stenosis are the most common causes of lower back pain, according to Harvard Health Publishing.
While lower back pain is more likely to affect people over 30, a few factors greatly increase your risk for dealing with it at any age. You are more likely to experience lower back pain if you are:
- Not physically fit
- A smoker
- Sitting at a desk all day
- Working in a position that requires heavy lifting
No one can completely avoid the possibility of lower back pain, but practicing yoga regularly can reduce your risk. Yoga is a mind-body practice that combines mindfulness with physical postures and breathing exercises. Poses are often held for extended periods of time to increase the stretch or build strength. One of the features of yoga that makes it stand apart from other forms of physical exercise is the variety of postures. When you practice yoga postures, you work muscles you often don’t target in daily life or other forms of exercise, like the deep core muscles.
Yoga not only stretches your muscles and strengthens your core (which is key for protecting your lower back), but it also relieves the stress and fear that accompanies LBP. What makes yoga yoga is the focus placed on the breath during physical poses and bringing your awareness to the present moment.
Yoga teachers often encourage their students to do a “body scan” or “check in with themselves”. It helps students notice how they feel both mentally and physically. So often we feel stress and anxiety but don’t know the cause. When you identify the thoughts and feelings causing you stress, it’s easier to accept them and take away their power.