Your Neck & Back: Yoga for Core Strength & a Pain-Free Spine
The typical person spends all day sitting at a desk and then goes home to spend more time sitting at the computer or slouched on the sofa watching TV. It’s no wonder that back and neck pain plague most people — 80 percent of U.S. adults, according to Consumer Reports. But you don’t have to accept the pain and discomfort as inevitable. Web MD reports that something as simple as yoga can relieve stiffness and alleviate chronic back pain. Yoga accomplishes this miraculous feat in two ways: it stretches your muscles to loosen them up and it strengthens them, too, so they can support your frame, improve your posture and head pain off at the pass.
Help for Your Neck
Your spine goes all the way to the base of your skull so you may experience neck pain in addition to back pain if you’re having trouble with your spine. Yoga poses can help out in those instances of neck pain by lengthening and relaxing your neck muscles. Poses such as the Warrior pose, which requires you to pull your spine straight and long, and Camel and Bow poses, which include bending your head back at one point in the exercise and then relaxing it forward, will help when back pain travels to your neck.
Yoga With a Twist
The yoga poses that require you to twist at the waist feel oh-so good, and they ease pain, too. That’s because they restore a range of motion that’s natural for your spine, according to Yoga Journal. Most of the twisting yoga poses are performed in a seated position, sometimes in a chair but mostly on a mat on the floor. Bharadvaja’s Twist is done in a kneeling position as you twist to one side, lengthening your tailbone and turning as far as you can. It helps to place one hand behind you and the other on the opposite knee. For example, if you’re twisting to the right, you’ll place your right hand on the floor just behind your right hip and your left hand will rest on your right knee. Hold the pose while you count to 15 or 20, and then slowly relax back into the starting position and repeat the twist on your other side.
Back Stretching Poses
You’ll feel the stretch in your back in many yoga poses, such as the Cat pose, done on your hands and knees as you arch your back like a cat, or the Cobra pose that involves pulling your torso upright from a prone position, as described on the Body Results website. Laser Spine Institute is another helpful website that features useful spine exercises, such as Knee to Chest and Bridge poses, as alternative stretches that will benefit your back.
Strengthen Your Core
You’ve probably heard a lot of talk about strengthening your core. That’s because the muscles in your torso support your every move, transferring energy from your legs upward and from your upper body downward, depending on what you’re doing. Strengthening your core is also the most effective way to avoid back pain to begin with because it not only strengthens your back muscles, but it builds up other muscles that lend support to your back, such as your abs. Jason Crandell from Yoga Journal reports that focusing on your core muscles as you perform yoga in general will help strengthen them, but specific poses such as the Full Boat pose, in which your body forms a “V” as you balance on your glutes, and the Forearm Plank pose, similar to holding a push-up by resting on your forearms, are both yoga poses that bring attention to your core by challenging your abs and hip flexors.
Have a healthy day!