Dealing With Back Pain? Try These Simple Stretches
Millions of people are affected by back pain every day. And beyond living with the pain itself, back pain diminishes your quality of life—you end up missing work, family and social activities that you enjoy, your favorite sports, and you may not even be able to accomplish simple, everyday necessities.
Whether it's a herniated disc, spinal stenosis, or strained muscles, it can take some time to diagnose and treat the causes of back pain. So while you're trying to figure it out, here are a few simple things you can do to help achieve some level of comfort and pain relief:
- Let your spine really rest while sleeping.
- Exercise your core to strengthen abs and back muscles.
- Wear shoes that support your spine.
- Enjoy the benefits of an Ayurveda massage.
- Practice good ergonomics while sitting and limit total sitting time.
- Drink plenty of water and eat healthy.
- Do some simple back stretches every day.
Not doing it for you? Here is a set of four simple yoga stretches that you can do anytime, anywhere, that will do wonders for your back pain. It is highly recommended to do these stretches in sync with your breath as mentioned. These will help to release a lot of toxins including stress and emotions that gets stored up in our spine. According to world renowned spiritual and yoga Guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar who has pioneered the science of breath, "With our outgoing breaths, we release about 80% toxins from the body. Also our breath and emotions are connected with each other. Every emotions has a corresponding rhythm of breath and vice a versa, the way we breath influence the way we feel."
A healthy spine is a healthy body and healthy life! Enjoy these stretches every day!
Lengthen the spine.
Breathing in, slowly lift your arms from the sides. Interlace your fingers so the thumbs touch each other gently. Stretch up as much as you comfortably can, and keep your elbows straight yet soft, and ensure that your biceps are close to your ears.
Hold this posture for 2 to 3 long, deep breaths.
To deepen the stretch: Gently pull your belly button (inward) toward the spine.
Twist the spine left and right.
Your fingers continue to remain interlaced above your head. Breathing out, gently twist to the right side. Hold this position for 2 to 3 long breaths. As you inhale, come back to center. Exhaling, turn to your left side and again hold this position for 2 to 3 long breaths. Inhaling, return to the center.
Bend the spine left and right.
Your fingers continue to remain interlaced above your head. As you exhale, slightly bend to the right side. Hold and keep breathing. Breathing in, come back to center.
Exhaling bend a little to the left side. Ensure that you are not bending to the front or back, and that one hand is not stretched more than the other. Breathing in, come back to the center.
Stretch the spine forward.
Breathing out, stretch your hands out to the front. Breathe in and as you now breathe out, stretch forward from your lower back.
Stretch the spine forward and sideways.
Breathe in and as you exhale, turn to your right side. Ensure that both the hands are parallel to each other and stretched equally, else gently correct the posture.
Breathing in, return to the center. As you exhale repeat the stretch turning to the left. Return to the center as you breathe in.
Stretch the spine backward.
Now slowly bring your arms up. Unlock the fingers and stretch back. Inhale and come back to the center. As you exhale, slowly bring your arms down from the side.
Twist the spine from side to side.
Take a deep breath in. As you exhale, slowly twist to your right side. Keep your left palm on your right knee. With right hand pressing on the floor next to right hip, lift your spine upward, making sure you are not leaning on your hand or leaning forward. Inhale and return to the center. Exhale and repeat the stretch on the left side. Keep your right palm on your left knee and left palm on the floor. Remember to keep your back straight and stretch tall.
Breathing in, return to the center. Change your cross-legged position. If your right leg was placed over the left, now place the left leg over the right, and repeat the stretch as explained above to the right and left sides.
Tip to deepen this stretch: Engage the abdominal muscles in addition to the hip muscles to twist farther.
Sejal Shah is E-RYT® 500, YACEP® through Sri Sri School of Yoga and Yoga Alliance and is recognized as an expert in all four educational categories of Yoga Alliance. Shah has been on the path of yoga and meditation for about 20 years with a dream of world peace and well-being. Having a strong foundation for understanding health in terms of mind-body-soul state with her training in homeopathy, yoga, and ayurveda, she teaches people from all walks of life about healthy living, how to effectively manage their mind and emotions, eliminate stress, live in harmony amid diversity, and bring greater peace and joy into their lives. She has facilitated more than 15,000 hours of programs in mind-body wellness. She is the former founder of the Wellness and Life Style Excellence Center and now the Art of Living Foundation and is a member of the Yoga Academic Council at Sri Sri University, India.