In my opinion, there is nothing worse than having a chronically sore back. Being in pain every day affects everything else I do. Hiking is harder, sitting for very long is a big no, no and teaching my classes leaves me stiff and sore for hours. I heard on the T.V. yesterday that back pain/discomfort is the #1 reason for missed work and/or disability in America! I believe it because I know that when my back hurts I find it difficult to be motivated to do anything!
As a fitness instructor, I am currently teaching 9 classes a week. Some are Strength & Conditioning and some are Yoga so I’m getting plenty of core strengthening and also lots of stretching. So why is my back acting up AGAIN? The only thing I can think of is that I’m overusing it. I’m not a spring chicken anymore. I’ll be 49 this year! Yikes!
As we age it’s important to be careful with body parts that squeak when we overdo things. We need to stay mobile and flexible but we also need to modify so that we don’t push our bodies over the limit of what they are capable. I would also recommend going to see a Chiropractor if you have chronic issues. I know that helps me immensely but there are also some postures you can do that will help in between doctor visits.
So here are my 5 favorite postures for a sore/tight back. These are the ones that feel good to me. Go slow and take each one easy. See if they help you feel better.
Stand tall in Mountain Pose/Tadasana and then begin to fold forward slowly with the chin and shoulders, be sure to bend your knees and fold forward at the hips. I have had some teachers tell me to fold down with a flat back – but that is uncomfortable for me and puts strain on my lower back – so I roll down through the spine, pulling in my belly as I go down. When I am down as far as my body will fold, I take a deep breath and let it out then roll slowly back up. I repeat this two more times with a big inhale and exhale at the bottom of each one. By the third one I am usually closer to the ground with my hands and feeling looser in my back. Do not be afraid to use props, blocks, a stool – whatever you have handy to help you feel safe and solid in this posture.
This is one of my favorite poses as you can probably tell by the smile on my face! My favorite way to do Child’s Pose is to take my knees as wide as my mat and point the toes together. As I lower my abdomen down between my thighs I reach my hands back and reach for my toes. I am able to get really low this way. I turn my head to one side and take three measured breaths and then I turn my head to the other side and do the same….feel free to stay here as long as you like!
Modeled by William Billy Knox
This next pose can be challenging especially if my back is really shouting at me. The feet are wide with the toes pointed outward, lowering the pelvis down towards the floor. The goal is to keep the heels in contact with the mat but if that is too much, try using a rolled up blanket under the heels. Hands come to Anjali Mudra (prayer pose) and the elbows come inside the knees. Knees can press into the elbows. I try to hold this for 5 long, slow breaths.You can just tell by the look on Billy’s face that he is enjoying this posture!
Modeled by Jamie Lucas Smith
We do cow pose in almost every class I teach. It’s one of the most accessible ways for students to find articulation of the spine. It is usually done in combination with Cat Pose (Marjariasana) but can be done alone. You can see that Jamie has lifted her seat and also her head, allowing the tummy to fall a bit towards the floor. In this position the top/back of the hip bones (the illiac crest) gets closer to the lower ribs and that releases any tension on the muscles that are attached to those two points. This pose feels so good to me that it’s almost impossible for me NOT to wag my tail a bit when doing it!
Supta Jathara Parivartanasana/Supine Spinal Twist
Modeled by Kendal Taylor Scott
And finally we get to come down to the floor and twist! My daughter, Kendal lies on her back and pulls her right knee into her chest. The left leg is straight. The right knee gets invited to cross over her abdomen and stretch to the left side of her body. Her right hip and buttock come up off the floor offering a great stretch through the lower back, ribs, hips and outer thigh of the right leg. It feels delicious! Be careful not to twist too deeply. It is not the goal to get the knee to the floor. Although in this picture you can see that my daughter is flexible enough to do just that! Find a balance between the twist and the extension of the right arm.Work to find a happy medium.
So, there ya go. My 5 favorite yoga poses that help my poor, old, sore back feel better! I hope these help you as well! Give them a try and let me know what you think!