People who suffer from ongoing or recurrent bouts of back pain often have to try a number of different forms of exercise to find the most appropriate therapy to manage their pain. For many, yoga has proven to be a safe and effective way to finally alleviate many forms of back pain or neck pain and help prevent ongoing problems.
How Yoga Can Help
Yoga can provide several healing benefits for people with various types of back pain. For example, yoga can help by:
- Healing injured back muscles
- Speeding time to recover from an injury
- Preventing re-injury
- Helping maintain a regular level of daily activities and avoid disability
Among other things, yoga helps ease lower back pain by gently stretching and strengthening the muscles of the lower back and legs and increasing blood circulation, which in turn brings healing nutrients to the injured tissues.
Yoga is approximately 4,000 years old and is a scientific methodology aimed at uniting the mind, body, and spirit. This bonding that occurs through yoga is said to bring about not only physical benefits, but mental benefits as well, taking the individual to a level that could not be reached by manipulating one factor alone. This unique characteristic has prompted many back-pain patients to incorporate yoga as part of their treatment program.
Main Components of Yoga
There are many different types of yoga, each stressing a particular theory or mindset, and each is comprised of numerous postures and areas of focus. While the actual practice of yoga is extremely extensive and detailed, in its essence yoga focuses on three main components:
- Body position/posture
- Meditation/state of mind
In general, yoga is a very safe form of exercise for most people. For those with specific back conditions, it is advisable to speak with one’s treating physician prior to starting yoga (or any exercise program). Anyone with severe or ongoing back pain should be evaluated by a health professional for an accurate diagnosis and treatment program before beginning yoga.
Strengthening from holding yoga positions
Yoga helps increase strength in very specific muscles and muscle groups. Holding positions in yoga is not intended to be uncomfortable. However, it does require concentration and specific use of muscles throughout the body. Muscle strength improves by remaining in these yoga positions and incorporating various movements.
Stretching and relaxation from yoga
Yoga incorporates stretching and relaxation, which reduces tension in stress-carrying muscles. Yoga requires that the individual hold gentle poses anywhere from 10 to 60 seconds. Within the pose, certain muscles flex, while others stretch, promoting relaxation and flexibility in muscles and joints.
Posture, balance, and body alignment through yoga
The yoga poses are meant to train the body to be healthy and supple. Consistent practice and application will result in improved posture, and an increased sense of balance, with head, shoulders and pelvis in proper alignment. Additionally, unlike many other forms of exercise, yoga helps stretch and strengthens both sides of the body equally.
Awareness of the body through yoga increases with practice
In theory, specific positioning and repositioning not only limbers the body, but also trains people to understand the limitations of their body. An increased awareness acts as a preventative measure, in that the individual will know what types of motions should and should not be avoided.
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