In the United States lower back pain is one of most common complaints. The Mayo Clinic states that most people will experience low back pain at some point in their lives. Lower back pain is experienced by sedentary people as well as highly-trained athletes.
If you look at a typical weekday of an average American who works a nine-to-five job, it is easy to see why lower back pain is an issue.
A Marathon of Sitting Leads to Low Back Pain
Upon awakening one may sit to have coffee or breakfast before sitting to drive to work. When arriving at work the corporate employee will often sit at a desk or in meetings until lunch. Lunch involves more sitting, before sitting at the desk to finish the workday. Then of course there is the commute home and another sit-down meal.
Exhausted from a long day of sitting at the office one may choose to sit on the sofa to watch television to unwind. If we look at it from an anatomical standpoint we realize the hamstring muscles and the illiopsoas muscles are shortened from the many hours of sitting and this causes strain on the lower back.
But I’m an Athlete, and My Back Still Hurts
Athletes on the other hand are not sedentary, so why the lower back pain? Any weight-bearing sport or exercise that involves running, jumping, or rapid dynamic movements produces tension on the lower back. When these activities are repeated over time without properly stretching and releasing these tight muscles overuse injuries may occur.
For the sedentary nine-to-five worker exercise is key for relieving lower back pain as well as reducing the risk of heart disease and diabetes. However, I’m assuming you are not in that category. If you are, then add some cardiovascular exercises along with the stretches suggested below.
If you have a slipped disc in the lower back or sciatica, please avoid all deep forward bends as these can make your condition worse.
Lower Back Pain Relief Yoga Sequence
For lower back relief please do the following poses daily or at least after your workout. Breathe deeply in and out of the nose while doing these poses.
1. Supine Hamstring Stretch
Lying on your back, bend your right knee into your chest and place a strap or rolled-up towel around the ball of your foot. Straighten your leg toward the ceiling. Press out through both heels. If the lower back feels strained, bend the left knee and place the foot on the ground. Hold for 3-5 minutes and then switch to the left let for 3-5 minutes.
2. Two-Knee Twist
Lying on your back, bend your knees into your chest and bring your arms out at a T. As you exhale lower your knees to ground on the right. Keep both shoulders pressing down firmly. If the left shoulder lifts, lower your knees further away from the right arm. Hold for 1-2 minutes each side
Lying on your stomach, prop yourself up on your forearms. Align your elbows directly under your shoulders. Press firmly through your palms and the tops of your feet. Press your pubic bone forward. You will feel sensations in your lower back, but breathe through it. You are allowing blood flow into the lower back for healing. Hold for 1-3 minutes.
From all-fours, bring your right knee behind your right wrist with your lower leg at a diagonal toward your left hip. Square off your hips toward the ground. Bend forward. Widen the elbows and place one hand on top of the other as a pillow for your forehead. Hold 2-3 minutes and then switch to the left side for 2-3 minutes.
If pigeon pose bothers your knees, then do Thread the Needle.
4B. Thread the Needle
Lying on your back, bend both knees with the feet flat on the ground. Bend the right knee like a figure four, with the outer left ankle to the right thigh. Lift the left foot into the air, bringing the left calf parallel to the ground. Thread your right hand between the opening of the legs and interlace your hands behind your left thigh. Hold 2-3 minutes and then repeat on the other side.
5. Legs Up the Wall
Scoot your buttocks all the way into the wall and swing your feet up the wall. This pose is excellent for relaxing the muscles of the lower back and drains stagnant fluid from the feet and ankles. Do this pose after a challenging workout and always after traveling by plane. Hold for 5-10 minutes.