What yoga postures can help relieve back pain?

Back pain is a very common complaint, especially among people who lead less active lives. Yoga is a mental and physical practice that can help calm the mind and stretch and strengthen the body.

Certain yoga poses can directly help relieve back pain by stretching and strengthening the back muscles.

That said, it may be best to combine yoga poses with other forms of exercise, including cardio and strength training, for best results.

Keep reading to learn more about some yoga poses and how they can be helpful in relieving back pain.

Yoga poses can help a person stretch the core and back muscles. This can help strengthen areas of muscle that might otherwise not be used much. By doing so, a person may be able to avoid injury from weak or overworked muscles.

To avoid injuries during yoga, it is important that people practice these positions slowly and gently. Sudden movements or twisting with force can stretch or strain the muscles.

There is growing evidence to support the use of yoga for certain types of pain. A study 2020 suggests that a yoga program tailored to each individual’s needs can improve both pain and quality of life scores.

Yoga is also gaining popularity as a treatment for issues such as chronic lower back pain. A study 2016 notes that yoga can reduce pain, improve function, and boost mood in people with chronic low back pain.

A review in the International yoga journal also notes that certain types of yoga seem to treat short-term back and neck pain because they release muscle tension that leads to pain symptoms. However, the practices alone may not be as effective in the long run.

A 2016 review suggests that yoga appears to be a safe and effective treatment for chronic low back pain. It also suggests that yoga may have a positive effect on depression and other psychological conditions.

The following sections will discuss six effective yoga poses for back pain and how to do them.

Child’s Pose is both a resting position and an active stretch.

It is a central position in many yoga practices and can be helpful for those looking to reduce back pain and tension.

  1. Start on all fours, legs together.
  2. Now move the hands forward, so that the arms are fully extended.
  3. Dip the body back, so that the buttocks rest gently on the heels.
  4. Place the forehead on the floor.
  5. Hold this position for 30 seconds to 5 minutes.

The downward facing dog is a popular pose in many yoga practices.

This position can be particularly helpful for people with lower back pain and sciatica, as it helps to gently stretch the muscles at the back of the leg.

  1. Start on all fours, knees under hips and hands aligned with wrists and shoulders.
  2. Push the weight into the hands and lift the body from the knees.
  3. Bring the tailbone toward the ceiling. The shoulders should naturally roll back as the spine and legs lengthen. Keep a slight bend in the knee and feel the tailbone rise to the ceiling.
  4. Keep the heels slightly above the ground at first, then release them as the position becomes more comfortable. Press into the hands and arms to feel the stretch in the lower back and legs.
  5. Hold this position for up to 1 minute.

The cat-cow pose helps bring movement to the spine and the back and shoulder muscles.

It also stretches the neck and chest.

  1. To do the cat-cow pose, sit on all fours with your wrists aligned below your shoulders and your knees aligned below your hips. Keep your back straight but relaxed.
  2. With each inhale, keep your arms and legs straight and gaze up with your head, letting your stomach push gently toward the floor.
  3. With each exhale, lower your head and tuck your chin into your chest. Pull the navel towards the spine and allow the back to arch towards the ceiling.
  4. Continue with these gentle movements for at least 1 minute. Notice wherever there is tension in the body and try to release it and relax the area.

The Sphinx Pose is a gentle way to extend the back and activate the muscles along the spine.

It can help relieve tension in the back and is suitable for most beginners.

  1. Start by lying face down. Keep your feet in line with your hips, placing the tops of your feet on the floor.
  2. Bring your elbows under your shoulders, palms down on the mat.
  3. Use your hands, forearms, and elbows to gently lift your core off the mat. Push towards the floor with the forearms and hands, while gently pulling the chest forward.
  4. Try to raise the top of the head to the ceiling. Protect and strengthen the lower back by pressing the pelvic triangle into the mat and extending the tailbone toward the heels. The back extension should be gentle but cause a noticeable stretch and activation of the spine and the muscles along the spine.
  5. Hold the pose for 1 minute.

Bridge Pose is a backbend exercise that works and stretches the spine, hips, and hamstrings all at once.

  1. To perform the pose, lie on your back with your arms at your sides and your palms on the mat.
  2. Bend the knees and bring the heels close to the buttocks, feet flat on the floor.
  3. Press through the feet and arms, lifting the tailbone from the floor to the ceiling. Raise until the thighs are parallel to the floor.
  4. Hold this position for up to 1 minute.
  5. Slowly release the body towards the ground, from the torso to the tailbone.
  6. You can also hold this position for 5-10 seconds and then slowly lower back down to the floor. Repeat the pose 10 times as an active workout.

The double knee twist is a gentle way to help open up the hips and back.

It also gently works the shoulders, abs and chest.

  1. Lie flat on your back with your arms stretched out to either side of your body.
  2. Pull the knees towards the chest and relax.
  3. Slowly lower the legs to one side of the body, keeping the knees together the entire time.
  4. Rest your knees on a pillow or on the floor. Relax into the position, holding for 30 seconds.
  5. Gently bring the legs back to the center and repeat the process on the other side.

It may be advisable to perform twisting movements under the guidance of a certified yoga trainer or fitness specialist. If a person does them incorrectly, the twisting motions can make back pain symptoms worse.

Back pain is a common problem. Certain yoga poses can help relieve this symptom. Practicing gentle yoga stretches safely and correctly on a regular basis can help reduce or prevent back pain.

That said, simply doing a few yoga poses each day will usually not be enough to treat back pain in the long run.

Yoga poses can help in addition to other lifestyle changes to improve back pain, such as exercising regularly and maintaining a moderate weight.