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April 27, 2015
I wanted to ask what your thoughts were on poses which are contraindicated for a herniated disc in the lower back. There seems to be differences of opinion amongst Yoga teachers.
As I understand it, seated twists and forward bends are contraindicated, and one needs to be cautious with standing forward bends. Some teachers seem to say that you need to be careful with Utthita Parsvokonasana and that Prasarita Padottanasan and Uttanasana are contraindicated, while others don't mention that these poses may be contraindicated.
Also, I was under the impression that backbends were a good form of Yoga therapy for disc disease, but one teacher says that Cobra Pose and Dhanurasana should be practised with caution if you have diagnosed disc disease. I'm a little confused and would be grateful if you would clarify things for me.
April 27, 2015
Yoga for Lumbar Pain
Chronic back pain can be debilitating; it interferes with regular day-to-day functioning and makes living a normal life impossible. Back pain is the leading cause of missed work in the United States among working adults, and it is a problem that is becoming significantly more prevalent with the increasing use of technology for prolonged periods of time. Pain and inflammation are most commonly seen in the lumbar region. Lower back pain can be caused by a variety of things, such as exercise-induced irritation and even the structure of the spine in this region. With the consultation of a trusted physician, yoga can be implemented to ease and treat lumbar pain.
Though the spine is strong and flexible in the lumbar region, it bears the weight of the entire torso. The weight can cause pressure and tension on the muscles, which can tear or hyperflex in response to this. These are both extremely painful conditions that are more easily prevented than treated. Carrying extra weight, specifically while lifting, will also cause tearing or overextending of the muscles in the lumbar region. This is why it is advised to lift with the knees, as opposed to bending and lifting with the muscles in the back.
Many working adults spend the majority of their time hunched over a desk or computer screen, or else a car or workbench. The poor posture is not industry specific. When the shoulders are bent forward for long periods of time, the muscles of the lower back are stretched. Holding this posture damages not only the muscles of the upper back, but also those of the lower back. This occupation-induced lumbar pain is difficult for many people to avoid. The benefits of yoga to the lower back are increased by the stress-releasing factors of yoga, and yoga works better than many other exercise-based treatment plans for lumbar pain.
Poses that stretch the spine are the most ideal for assisting with back pain. Many people find that sitting is difficult with lumbar pain, so these poses are not usually sitting poses. The wall plank pose is helpful if it can be achieved, as is the downward-facing dog. Both poses stretch the lumbar muscles specifically and will offer tension release in this area. The pigeon pose, back-traction pose, and child's pose may also be beneficial. Patients with back pain find that yoga relaxes them while also stretching their pained muscles, and this leads to improved lumbar health overall.
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