Back pain? You are not alone. Over 80 % of Canadians will experience back pain atleast once in their life. However, about 90% of back pain is not caused by any serious injury or disease. That being said, it doesn’t make it any less painful or debilitating. For a lot of people, traditional physiotherapy and massage therapy works well, but if it doesn’t don’t be discouraged… there is still hope! As a physiotherapist myself that has suffered from back pain, yoga has changed my life! It has helped me increase my flexibility, core strength, improve my posture and overall enhance my life.
The spine is meant to move in lots of different ways. If we don’t move or stretch it gets stiff and rusty. This can start to cause some aches and pains which can get worse over time if it is not addressed. It can also make you more susceptible to becoming that 10% of people that suffer from a more significant injury. “But it hurts to move,” you say… Yes, oftentimes it does cause some discomfort to move especially if you haven’t tried to move in certain directions for a long time but science now tells us that it is far better for your back to move in a controlled and safe way rather than not moving. This is where yoga can help…. Yoga is a very gentle and proven way to help loosen up your back and make sure it moves smoothly within all its normal ranges of motion.
All of us have heard that if you have back pain you should strengthen your core, right? Yoga creates a great way of functionally strengthening your core. What that means is instead of isolating certain muscles, the yoga poses (asanas) that you are taken through will help you learn how to use all the muscles of your core together (including your diaphragm and pelvic floor!). If you continue strengthening your core on the ground then your body doesn’t get stronger in the positions it needs for everyday activities. For example, vacuuming your house requires you to be slightly bent over and pushing/pulling. Yoga poses that can simulate will force you to strengthen your core muscles in the positions it is needed so that once you get stronger, vacuuming won’t be painful.
There are many other benefits of yoga that can help with pain from breathing techniques (if it works for women in labour then it can work for your back pain too!) Also, mind-body awareness and connection is developed to help you realize if there are postures or positions that you are doing out of habit that you don’t realize can be harming your body. Yoga can correct imbalances of your musculoskeletal system that you didn’t even know existed.
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