Hello again! I’m expanding on my last blog with a few quick tips to help you move safely on your yoga mat if you are having chronic low back pain:
- As always, first, get checked out by a licensed healthcare provider. Make sure it is safe for you to practice yoga. These tips are for minor crankiness NOT if you are in severe pain.
- Forward folds: Standing OR Sitting - Try bending your knees and separating your feet at least a fist’s width apart. Why? If you have low back issues, you really want to bend from your hip joint, not your low back. When you bend forward with knees bent there is a little more slack in the muscles at the backs of your thighs and this allows you to bend more easily from your hip joint and not as much from your low back
- In Uttanasana, use blocks under your fingertips to avoid “hanging” on your lumbar spine (low back).
- You can still do your bridge poses but dial back the height and make sure you stabilize your core with all of the muscles in your trunk. Think about trying to reach your thigh bones and pelvis towards the foot of your mat.
- Belly-down backbends – Full Locust or Bow Pose can be rough on your low back. If you are going to do them, you MUST keep your core engaged. If you are having pain, try only lifting your torso and pressing the tops of your feet and legs firmly into the floor in Locust and in Bow Pose, keep your thigh bones on the floor and consider skipping on holding your ankles – or use a strap to reach your feet and still keep thigh bones on the floor. As your back gets stronger you may eventually do the full pose.
- Twisting: The vertebra of your lower back is not really made to rotate very much, but those supporting your ribcage are. So, when entering a twist, think to lift up, firm the core and then twist. Maintain muscular support around your core throughout the twist.
- Make sure you breathe slowly and continually, slow exhales soother the nervous system and a happy nervous system generally means less pain!
My constant mantra is: Know your body, listen to your body, communicate back and forth with yourself. If you are tight, add mobility practices, if you are flexy add strengthening practices. Too much of any one thing is not a good thing! Come to one of my classes or workshops, I always share movement information and how to modify a practice! Stay tuned for my next blog post which will have more hacks for low back crankiness off your yoga mat!