Want your back to feel good? Then you gotta do all the right moves. And the best moves for your back just might be yoga moves.
In a study, people who practiced yoga daily for 6 months experienced less back pain and disability compared with those who didn't spend time on the mat. And the yogis relied less on back pain medication, too.
Strike a Pose
Lower back pain is one of the most common reasons people go to the doctor. Up to 85% of us suffer from lower back pain at some point. But in a study, people with chronic lower back pain who took 90-minute Iyengar classes with an instructor twice a week got quite a bit of pain relief from the yoga moves. They also practiced yoga for 30 minutes at home on the days they didn't take a class. And after just 12 weeks, not only did their backs feel better, but their moods improved, too. And they felt even better still after 24 weeks of practice. (Here are 3 more ways yoga does your body good.) These are some of the postures that helped bring relief:
- Tadasana (Mountain pose): Stand tall at the front of the yoga mat with your hands at your heart and feet hip-distance apart.
- Urdhva Hastasana (Raised hands pose): Reach your arms out to the side; extend until your palms are touching overhead while looking up past the thumbs.
- Uttanasana (Standing forward bend): Exhale and dive forward, hinging at the hips while moving the heart forward and down; your arms should reach out toward mat, hands press flat on mat, and your weight is forward on the balls of the feet.
- Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward facing dog): Get down onto your hands and knees. Walk your hands forward while keeping them shoulder-width apart. Press into your palms, curl your toes under, and lift your hips up toward the ceiling. Your feet should be hip-width apart, and your gaze should fall between your feet. Be mindful to push forward through your hands while pressing back through your thighs to keep the weight of the body lifting up through the hips.
Just Say "Om"
Iyengar yoga is a style that emphasizes strength and flexibility with the use of props for support. It's a gentle form of yoga that includes restful yoga moves -- no backbending contortions here. And it's great to know that it could represent a back pain medication-free way to take some "ouch" out of an achy back. But if you have back pain, check with your doctor first. Here are some other options for helping backs feel better:
- Stress less. Stress can make muscle aches and pains worse. Try this 5-minute technique to destress.
- Take a dip. A little time in the local public pool may be just what your back needs. Find out why pool activities are good for an aching back.
Time to see a doctor about your achy back? Here are some signs that it's time to call on a professional.