Yoga for Back Pain

Marda Zechiel, Yoga Manager

Are you suffering from chronic or occasional back pain? Multiple studies have shown that yoga can be the solution to relieving back soreness if particular attention is given to the correct muscular usage and alignment. In fact, several studies have discovered that yoga can be even more beneficial than the usual care for back pain when it comes to improving back function. According to a study published in the journal, Archives of Internal Medicine, people who took yoga or stretching classes are twice as likely to cut back on pain medications for their back aches as people who managed symptoms on their own.

There are certain yoga postures that can stretch and strengthen your muscles and return your back to its proper alignment.

*It is always a good idea to consult with your doctor before starting any new exercise routine, especially if you are prone to pain. Once you receive the approval of your doctor, try these soothing poses in the sequence below.*

Child’s Pose

A great way to begin or wind down your day. Start on all fours on your hands and knees. Bring your knees as wide as your mat with your big toes touching. Then, stretch your arms out in front of you, sinking your hips down on your heels and resting your forehead on the mat. Hold for 10 breaths.

Table Top to Cow and Cat pose

Come up from Child’s pose and position knees under hip bones and wrists under shoulders, aligning or stacking your joints into Table Top position. You can start by dropping your head and letting your neck muscles relax. As you inhale, go into Cow pose by lifting your head and tailbone and letting your belly drop toward the floor. Keep your shoulders down and away from your ears. As you exhale, come into Cat pose by pulling your belly up, rounding your spine toward the ceiling and tucking your chin toward your chest.

Continue to synchronize these movements with your breath or spend a few extra breaths in Cow, as this really helps to open the lower back. Take 5-10 breaths here.

Downward Facing Dog

From Table Top, tuck your toes and begin to straighten your legs and lift your hips, coming into an inverted “V” shape. Move your hands forward slightly if needed and actively push the floor away. If you feel back pain beyond a gentle stretch, or if your spine rounds due to short hamstrings, try bending your knees and pressing your chest towards your thighs. Move gently in the pose for a few breaths, bending and straightening legs and then hold for 5-10 breaths.

Standing forward bend or Rag Doll

From Downward Facing Dog, walk your feet toward your hands, bringing them hip distance apart. Bend your knees slightly and fold your torso over your thighs, touching your belly to your legs if possible. Allow your arms to hang toward the floor or grab your elbows with the opposite hand. Let your head hang freely. Stay here for 10 breaths.

Plank to Cobra or Upward Facing Dog

Cobra pose-from a Plank, lower to your belly and position your hands under your shoulders. As you inhale, press your hands into mat and lift your chest. Keep your core engaged (drawing your belly button to your spine) and point your toes so that your knee caps lift off the mat.

Upward Facing Dog pose-if Cobra feels like it is enough, stay with this pose. If you want to move into Upward Facing Dog, press into the mat, further straightening your arms and keeping your wrists under shoulders. Press the tops of your feet and hands into the flooras they are the only points in contact with the mat. Make sure to keep an engaged core, draw  shoulders back and lift sternum forward.

Come back to Downward Facing Dog for a few breaths and then complete this sequence with Child’s pose.

The above series can get you started. If you are newer to yoga, do this sequence once or twice a day, trying to stay in each posture for the recommended breaths. If you have any questions about these poses, please ask any of your GATC Yoga instructors. We would be happy to help!

Marda Zechiel, Yoga Manager | 303.770.2582 x324 | MardaZ@GreenwoodATC.com

 

Tips for Raising Healthy Athletes

Here are some great ideas from our registered dietician Kristin Burgess on what kinds of drinks and foods you can give your children to help them be at their healthiest when they are doing sports:

 

 

Sports Drinks:

  • Water is the only fluid needed by the body for under 60 minutes of exercise

-Exceptions are exercising in extreme heat and excessive sweating or more than 60 minutes of moderate activity. In this situation, a healthy sports drink would be in order. Look for one with less than 10 grams of sugar per eight ounces and is free of all alternative sweeteners, artificial sweeteners, dyes, colors and flavors.

Healthy any time snacks:

-Fruit or dried fruit

-Small chocolate milk

-Nuts or trail mix if no allergies

-Fruit snacks are ok as long as they are free of artificial sweeteners, colors, dyes and flavors.

 

Pre exercise meals and snacks:

  • Meal

-one hour to ninety minutes before exercise

-include a healthy carbohydrate, protein and fat such as a grain, fruit, milk, yogurt, eggs, meat, nut butter, veggies

  • Snacks

-thirty to sixty minutes before exercise

-include a healthy carbohydrate plus protein, such as fruit, yogurt, nuts, nut butter, milk, cheese

Post exercise meals and snacks:

  • Meal

-a protein, healthy carbohydrate and fat such as meat, nuts, cheese, fruit, grain, avocado

  • Snack

-healthy carbohydrate and protein such as fruit, nuts, cheese, milk, yogurt

  • WATER!

If you have questions or would like to schedule an appointment to discuss your athletes specific needs, just give Kristin Burgess a call at 303-770-2582 x382.