Yoga Exercises Offer Soothing Back Pain Relief

If you are one of the millions of Americans, who struggle with back pain, you may have looked high and low for relief. Back pain can be a nagging and sometimes debilitating condition, and unfortunately, as many people suffering from back pain experience, Western medicine has little to offer for the condition short of surgery and pain killers.

The health of our back impacts our well-being in numerous days. Recurring discomfort from back pain can turn everyday tasks into painful chores, affecting our mood, energy, and well-being often as well.  

With the growing popularity of yoga, many are finding that yoga – apart from it’s numerous other health benefits – also can be an effective remedy for back pain. Many back problems emerge from problems in the soft tissues, which means that some of the most effective treatment options for back pain often are non-surgical and non-prescriptive, and instead are those that target soft tissue imbalances.

Yoga exercises often help heal back pain by helping to smooth out and heal chronic tension and tightness in the soft tissues, thereby often eliminating the root cause of the back pain.

In a 2005 study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine,  back pain yoga was found to provide more effective pain relief than a combination of exercise and proper back care. Back yoga has also been recommended by the American College of Physicians and the American Pain Society as a measure for treating persistent back pain.

The 4 Ways in Which Yoga Stretches Help Back Pain

Timothy McCall, MD, author of Yoga as Medicine: The Yogic Prescription for Health and Healing (Bantam, 2007), argues that yoga helps patients suffering from chronic back pain in four major ways:

1. Yoga strengthens weak muscles, particularly the core muscles. According to McCall, yoga targeting back pain strengthens weak muscles by engaging and toning the body’s core posture muscles, giving the spine’s muscular support system greater strength and stability. In this way, yoga for back pain takes the pressure off the spine and makes proper posture-a key element in lasting back-pain relief-more natural and comfortable.

2. Yoga improves flexibility. Back care yoga increases flexibility in a balanced manner by removing the strain caused by muscle groups tugging the spine out of alignment. Many back pain problems arise from too-tight muscles pulling on vertebrae at unnatural angles. Yoga for back pain relief stretches out these muscles, relieving the pressure.

3. Yoga increases blood flow. Back pain yoga also improves oxygenation to body tissues and increases the flow of nutrients and removal of toxins in the spine itself. Many yoga poses for back pain alternate compression and release of pressure, coupled with an emphasis on deep breathing to systematically flood the body with uniquely oxygen-rich blood. This fresh influx of blood clears out toxins in the body and delivers vital nutrients to all areas-including the soft tissues. This is very helpful to people who sit at computers all day, which can lead to a compressed spine and restricted blood flow. Back yoga stretches out the whole body, decompressing the spine and improving circulation to the vertebrae and vertebral discs.

4. Yoga reduces stress. Finally, yoga therapy may help combat back pain by inducing greater relaxation. With all the stresses of everyday life, our nervous system often becomes constantly engaged in “fight or flight” mode. In this mode, our muscles-and especially those around the spine-tighten up. This constriction frequently leads to neck tension, tension headaches, and recurring back pain. Yoga therapy helps settle the mind and create greater relaxation in the body, shifting us from “fight or flight” into the rejuvenating “rest and digest” state. In this relaxed state, the body no longer fights to maintain readiness for battle, but 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. A person practicing yoga for back pain will also benefit from yoga’s effects on organ health, mood, emotional balance and overall well-being.

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