This letter is coming at you because I've had two conversations, with two separate clients, in back-to-back days, regarding today's topic. So this tells me you may have some questions about it, too.
This will be a short post, but if you take yoga, are interested in taking yoga, or have back pain, you may want to keep reading.
Does yoga fix back pain?
It is a common belief among folks that yoga is the bee's knees when it comes to curing back pain. And although it may indeed help relieve tension, improve flexibility, and connect you with your inner self, there are some things you may want to consider when taking yoga.
For one, what is the source of your back pain? Is it because you are flexion intolerant or extension intolerant?
Here's what I mean...
It hurts when you reach down and touch your toes. This is commonly seen when the vertebral disc(s) are bulging from repeated forward bending on the spine. Not fun.
It hurts when you stand back up. Any "overarching" of your back causes discomfort because of pinching in the back of the vertebrae.
As you can see from the picture above, when people are stuck in this extension, it tends to create a pinching feeling when your back is arched. Now take a look at this common pose seen in many a yoga class:
So the point of today's post is just to highlight to you how yoga may or may not be a solution to your back pain problems. Depending on what the cause of your pain may be, there are certain positions to avoid, as well as some that may be beneficial.
If you are unsure as to which exercises will help, and which will hurt, you can try the simple toe touch test I alluded to above.
Standing with your feet flat and together, bend forward and reach down for your toes. Notice at what point you tend to feel your back "pinch" or aggravate. If it is on the way down to your feet, you are flexion intolerant, and may be best to avoid exercises like crunches or situps.
If it is when you are standing back up, it may be best to avoid the pose pictured above (Cobra pose, I believe?) or an out-of-control Sun Salutation pose, where the lower back is arched hard.
This isn't an anti-yoga rant, I just wanted to offer a quick heads-up so you can know how best to utilize your time and energy in your next yoga class.
Of course, if you think you may need your own program to help strengthen your own weak areas, I offer lower back strengthening programs through my Online Coaching Service.
Hope that was a help for you, let me know what you thought of this post!