Many people have lower back pain and it is chronic for them. Most people who have lower back pain engage in actions that make it worse, sometimes in the name of making it better. Many people do forward bends to try to ‘stretch’ the lower back or ‘get’ to the spot through a stretch. This is not a good idea. First of all for clarity the type of lower back pain I am specifically referring to in this case is the sacra-iliac joint area where the sacrum meets the ileum. But I am also referring to back pain caused by herniated discs on the bottom lumbar vertebrae. If it is sacra-iliac, sometimes it is felt more on one side or the other and it is always a deep kind of sensation. For this type of back pain, which is fairly common, the following advice if followed has a significant chance of eliminating the pain. The exercises must be practiced daily because if we want to have a pain free existence, we have to earn it.
It is very important to understand that Yoga can either help or hurt a lower back situation. The wrong Yoga poses can do added damage to the situation. Many inexperienced teacher don’t understand the necessity to treat lower back pain specifically, so if you go to a yoga class you must employ the following principles on your own and without exceptions.
What it all comes down to is this: The hamstrings are attached to the Pelvis at the sitting bones and the hamstrings thus affect the ability of the pelvis to tilt forward during forward bends. So if the hamstrings are tight they will limit the pelvic tilt and as a result there will be a great stress in the sacra-iliac joint or in the herniated lumbar discs because the pelvis is not tilting yet the student is attempting for pull himself down anyway. It is a tug of war between the hamstrings and the sacra-iliac joint and the hamstrings are stronger so they will win. With that understanding it will now make sense to employ the following guidelines to keep the lower back safe while doing Yoga classes.
Actions to Avoid:
Most importantly avoid all forward bending that has legs straight and together at the same time. Seated forward bend and standing forward bends with legs together and straight is the most dangerous of all.
Avoid twisting if you have herniated disc history unless you are certain in what you are doing.
Actions to perform every day:
Exercise #1: Downward Facing Dog with knees slightly bent. Bend one knee at a time and do little mini runner’s lunges.
Exercise #2: Lie on your back and lasso a strap around the base of your big toe and pull on your straight leg. One leg at a time, switching sides every three breaths.
Repeat these for 15 minutes, back and forth.
For more information look at Fred Busch’s Book- A Clear and Definite Path.
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