If you are one of the millions of people who suffer from back pain, you understand the impact on your daily life.
According to the American Chronic Pain Association, one in four adults in the U.S. report low back pain lasting at least one day in the last three months.
And contrary to popular beliefs, back pain doesn’t just affect the elderly. Rather, back pain can occur at any age for any number of reasons.
Why are so many people affected by back pain? According to yoga therapist Laura Staton, it may have to do with the ways we’re moving – or not moving – on a daily basis:
“Back pain is afflicting people who are younger and younger because people are sitting so much more. And bad body mechanics, not to mention just sitting, really affects the curves of the back.”
Because of the modern epidemic of back pain, more and more often, doctors are recommending yoga as an anecdote. But the general guidance to practice yoga is not specific enough to the individual needs of patients suffering from back pain.
As yoga teachers and practitioners know, there are a million different types of yoga. And sadly, some yoga practices may do more harm than good.
For example, having a tight back may lead students to stretch the back when they may be better served by strengthening exercises.
What’s the solution? As Laura shares here, including a balance of stretching and strengthening is key for students with back pain.
But when dealing with back pain, what’s more important than the type of postures is students’ approach to practice:
“The experience is not necessarily even in the body in the pose. Yes, that’s important, but in the experience of the body working towards something, how can you maintain a conscious awareness of as much integrity as possible?”
Conscious awareness and physical integrity and both fundamental tools to develop working toward long-term prevention and relief from back pain:
“You have to really figure out in all in all types of yoga how you are going to manage keeping the integrity of the body intact and not just put it into a shape.”
Also key to practicing yoga with back pain is understanding the characteristics and causes of common issues with the back, such as sciatica and herniated discs. This knowledge can inform teachers and practitioners in tailoring practices to address the underlying cause of their pain rather than treating its symptoms alone. Laura explains:
“I think it’s really important as yoga teachers and yoga practitioners to understand the structure of the spine, what herniation is, and how certain movements affect herniations. And then you can put it together with a yoga practice that brings a sensory and nervous system response to your students.”
Laura leans on her rich experience as both a yoga therapist and occupational therapist specializing in injury rehabilitation to share many more principles, practices and approaches in working with back pain in this free download interview.
You may also be interested in Laura Staton’s course: Love Your Lower Back – Yoga TLC for Sciatica and Herniated Discs.