Yoga Offers Natural Relief for Back Pain
The health of our back impacts our well-being in numerous ways. Anyone suffering from back pain has experienced just how debilitating back pain can be. As recurring discomfort turns everyday tasks into painful chores, a person’s mood, energy, and well-being often gets affected as well.
Yoga therapy targeting back pain is showing promise as a new, alternative treatment for back pain. Back problems often originate in the soft tissues, and as a consequence, the most effective back pain treatments are typically non-surgical and non-prescriptive, targeting the soft tissues instead. Yoga offers therapy for back pain, because it helps relieve chronic tension and tightness in the soft tissues, addressing back pain at its root.
In a 2005 study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, yoga exercises for back pain were found to provide more effective pain relief than a combination of exercise and proper back care. Back pain yoga has also been recommended by the American College of Physicians and the American Pain Society as a measure for treating persistent back pain.
Yoga offers natural relief from back pain in four major ways:
1. Yoga tones and strengthens weak muscles. Yoga is particularly effective for toning and strengthening the body’s core muscles, which are critical for creating proper support for the spine and giving the back greater strength and stability. By increasing core stability and improving posture, yoga exercises for back pain decrease the pressure on the spine, a key element in creating lasting back-pain relief.
2. Yoga restores flexibility to the soft tissues. Chronically tight muscles can pull on the vertebrae and tug the spine out of alignment, in turn creating pain and strain. Yoga stretches are very effective at increasing the flexibility of the soft tissues, and this in turn releases strain caused by chronically tight muscles tugging on the spine. By stretching muscles and increasing flexibility, yoga helps release the pressure and relieve back pain.
3. Yoga improves circulation. By enhancing circulation, yoga improves oxygenation to body tissues. This increases the supply of nutrients to and removal of toxins from the soft tissues around the spine. Yoga exercises are particularly effective for this, because many yoga poses alternate between compression and release of pressure, which combined with deep breathing, floods the body with oxygen-rich blood. The new influx of blood removes toxins and delivers vital nutrients to the soft tissues. For people who work at a desk all day, this is particularly useful, as sitting at a desk for long hours will restrict blood flow and compress the spine. Yoga stretches the back, lengthens and decompresses the spine, and increases the circulation to the vertebrae and vertebral discs.
4. Yoga calms mind and body and releases stress. Chronic stress can cause our nervous system to be trapped in “fight or flight” mode, in which the muscles and soft tissues become chronically tense. Chronic tightness, particularly in the back, shoulders, and neck often underlines chronic bank pain, neck tension, or even migraine headaches. Yoga shifts the body out of the “fight or flight” mode into a parasympathetic response, a rejuvenating “rest and digest” state in which the body lets go of tension patterns and naturally begins to heal itself.
Of course, like any holistic mind-body approach to health, yoga offers many therapeutic effects, and these are just a few. When the spine is healthy, vital energy flows unimpeded, and we enjoy optimum well-being. For this reason, a person practicing yoga for back pain will also benefit from yoga’s effects on organ health, mood, emotional balance and general energy and well-being.