Natural solution to lower back pain
Robin Armstrong, DC
If you suffer from lower back pain, you may find relief at your local community centre and benefit from the therapeutic aspects of yoga for lower back pain.
If you suffer from lower back pain, the relief you’ve been looking for may be a little farther than the medicine cabinet, but as close as the local community centre. There you may find yoga teachers who are familiar with the therapeutic aspects of yoga for lower back pain.
As the world around us has changed, humans have given up hunting and gathering to spend more time hunched over a computer keyboard–and our backs may suffer. We may have the urge to reach for a quick fix such as a pain-numbing pill, but this offers only short-term relief without solving the problem. The solution could be much simpler than expensive pharmaceuticals.
Conducting Modern Research
Yoga has been studied as a treatment for back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, osteoarthritis of the hands, depression, asthma, hypertension, and many more conditions.
One study of chronic lower back pain reported in the Annals of Internal Medicine (2005) examined Viniyoga, a flowing style of yoga that incorporates a repetition of poses, as a possible lower back treatment. Subjects were divided into three groups–a yoga group, a back exercise group, and a group who read a book on back care. The participants in the yoga group increased their overall function, decreased their visits to health care practitioners, and decreased their pain.
A similar study in the journal Pain (2005) compared the effects of practising Iyengar yoga to completing an education session on lower back pain. Iyengar yoga uses low-tech equipment such as yoga blocks and belts to assist participants to hold the poses. The subjects decreased their pain, increased their function, and decreased their use of pain medication. The mental focus created by yoga allowed subjects to become aware of how they positioned their bodies, caused tense muscles to relax, and relieved stress.
Revealing Ancient Benefits
The scientific community is recognizing that yoga practices which have been used for centuries are effective methods for stabilizing the spine and relieving lower back pain.
A common practice in yoga is the use of bandhas or energy locks. Bandhas were traditionally used to contain the flow of prana or energy in the body. In mula bandha, the root lock, yogis bring attention to the pelvic floor, gently lifting and activating the muscles deep within the pelvis. This same action provides a stabilizing mechanism for the sacroiliac joints of the pelvis at the base of the spine, particularly for women.
When applying uddiyana bandha, the abdominal lock, the transversus abdominis muscle becomes activated. This muscle acts as a girdle for the lumbar spine. It wraps around the lower torso in a thick band at the front and attaches to the stabilizing connective tissue of the lower back.
To activate uddiyana bandha when practising poses, yogis draw the belly button in and up, and flatten the lower abdomen. A study of individuals who suffered their first episode of lower back pain showed that when they strengthened the transversus abdominis, they significantly reduced the recurrence of lower back discomfort.
Yoga is a proven natural way to decrease your back pain, strengthen your core, and improve your overall sense of well-being.
Finding your Root
To activate mula bandha, the muscles of the pelvic floor that bring stability to the lower back, find a comfortable position sitting in a chair or on the floor.