Categories
Fitness Health

Yoga for Back Pain

I wanted to write a quick post for people who are interested in using yoga for back pain.

Yoga in and of itself a great practice and one in which I regularly participate.

I find the breathing exercises, synchronizing my movement to the breath and the overall toning/stretching benefits to be very helpful.

One movement that we often do in yoga is the baby cobra or up-dog. When most people have back pain they are experiencing a disc issue, a spinal misalignment causing pressure on a nerve, tight muscles pressing on nerves, or possible spinal stenosis.

Often I find, that people have the mindset of ‘no pain no gain’, STOP! This might be true for high schoolers in football practice who would rather play video games than run a mile but this not true when it comes to spinal pain. In fact, this mindset can actually lead to real problems.

As a chiropractor, I would be remiss to not tell you that you need a spinal check and that includes x-rays. You need to know exactly what the problem is before you can start forcing your way to health.

One reason, I love yoga is that from my first class a good instructor will always tell you, if it hurts then slow down, modify or take a child’s pose. This means that you should not just push through the pain.

For my weekend warriors this might be disappointing but I’m here to tell you that too much of a good thing is still too much.

Or if you already have back pain and you think now is a good time to try something totally new like yoga, think again.

You need to get to the root cause of the problem and then you can heal it in the most effective way possible.

Throwing yoga at it, as if that is going to make up for all your years of not exercising and not stretching is not necessarily going to be good for you.

Back to baby cobra versus up-dog. Many people who try yoga for the first time in the hopes of fixing their back pain jump right into up-dog but this is way too much lumbar extension if you have a back issue.

Instead, baby cobra is a widely used physical therapy exercise for back issues. I use this as an example, not medical advice to show you that while you may have good intentions for yourself, you simply don’t know which exercises are safe and which could lead to more problems.

I highly encourage you to go to someone who is trained in yoga therapy or have a one on one with a certified yoga instructor and tell them you are in pain!

They need to help you to find out what is appropriate for you in the muscle, tendon and ligament scene before you just pop in a DVD or join a class.

Blocks and straps are also helpful tools to help you to get into and out of poses safely so you don’t hurt yourself. Again, a good teacher can help you to avoid falling or injuring yourself by teaching you how to use these aids.

Everyone wants you to enjoy yoga for it’s lifelong benefits and you can’t do that if you get hurt at your first class and then swear it off because it didn’t work for you.

Morgan

Resources:

If you’re going to use a yoga DVD, at least look for one that is for people with issues like the one below. As an Amazon affiliate I earn a small commission from any purchase made through these links.

Categories
Health Mindset

Failing Forward

So many people say that failing is growing but who actually believes that?

I’ve been reading “Mindset” by Dr. Carol Dweck and it has completely connected the dots on why people with a “fixed mindset” rail against the idea of failing.

I’m a millennial and we were brought up to believe we were special and talented, which in of itself sounds like a great idea. It was an improvement over the ideas of past parenting that said “you’ll never be good enough” or worse.

I think those of us who were raised in the late 80s, 90s and early 2000’s can all relate that it did feel good to know we were, okay, even if we didn’t excel at something.

The problem lies in the use of language. It’s amazing to me, how using certain phrases can completely change our psychology and impact the trajectory of our whole lives.

The idea of being special or talented means that you don’t have to try as hard to be good at something and you feel bad for those who do have to work hard.

While I was in high school, I could read something one time, regurgitate it and sometimes apply it better than my classmates who had spent hours on the material. Why? Because I was special. I have a fantastic memory and I enjoy using it.

I’ll never forget the many times my dad said to me that his wish for me was to be a great critical thinker not just a great regurgitator. I was so busy with sports, extracurriculars, volunteering and course work, that to be honest, I really didn’t care about becoming a great critical thinker because good regurgitators got good grades.

When I went to college, I found the first semester hard. My fantastic memory was not enough anymore, I needed to become a good critical thinker. Unfortunately for me that meant that I needed to apply myself. I thought back on what my friends did who needed to work hard and starting applying that method to my studies. My boyfriend at the time, was incredibly brilliant and he never needed to study or work very hard and I found myself feeling less than special because I now needed to work.

Thankfully, I put my pride on the shelf and my goals in front of me and realized that I needed to apply hard work to whatever natural ability I had to make a go of education.

The result? Success. To be honest, this was the first time when I realized how good it felt to work hard for something and be rewarded. Before, I felt like I had cheated, that I somehow hadn’t earned it because I didn’t need to struggle.

Looking back, I was cheating, cheating myself of the opportunity to push myself farther and learn more thanks to my natural ability. If I could go so far with my natural talents, then how much further could I have gone with some elbow grease?

I will always carry a little regret with me that I didn’t push myself farther in those early years, but I intend to make up for it now.

Back to Dr. Dweck and her mindset hypothesis. She makes the case for a fixed mindset and a growth mindset. Fixed mindsets are the ones where people feel they are special or talented and afraid to fail or be seen as less than special. Growth mindset people are people who want to learn and become better in whatever they are passionate about.

Inadvertently, I had gone from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset in college in order to succeed and then throughout my career in healthcare I have stayed mostly in a growth mindset.

It’s only been recently in the online space, that I have found myself reverting back to the fixed mindset, “what will people think”, “what if I’m not good enough, or as good at it, as I am as a chiropractor?”, “what if I fail?”.

Using the knowledge that I am reading in this book, which in of itself speaks to a growth mindset, I feel like I have good understanding of how these two mindsets interplay.

It’s okay to fail, it’s okay to be mediocre at first. I may not be the best blog writer or the best course instructor when I first start but through hard work I can become very good, maybe even great.

Become the best version of you through hard work

Morgan

For those interested you can pick up a copy of Dr. Dweck’s book below through Amazon, and I do earn a small commission if you buy through this link