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.
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.