More than 80% of adults experience lower back pains at some point in their lives, and more than 8% experience chronic symptoms. With so many people all around the world suffering from back pains, it is imperative that we understand why these pains occur, and what causes them,
The spine has 24 vertebrae, a sacrum and a coccyx. The human spinal column can be divided into the cervical spine, the thoracic spine, and the lumbar spine. The cervical spine i.e. your neck, and the lumbar spine i.e. your lower back, are very flexible, and are prone to injury. The supporting muscles of these areas can suffer from injury if you overstretch, and if you put too much pressure on it by picking up too much weight.
Your daily habits can also cause lower back pain. If you spend the larger part of the day sitting, i.e. in the car, in the office chair, and then on your couch, your hamstrings will tighten and that will create a pull into your lower back that will put a lot of stress on your spine.
Similarly, if you sit in a hunched forward position, you are putting unhealthy stress directly on your spine. If you bend over to pick things u-p without bending your knees, you will end up lifting with your back instead of your legs, and that too will result in lower back pain. Wrong angles at the gym, the wrong shoes when doing cardio, and sometimes even the wrong kind of mattress all can result in lower back pain. Luckily, there are a lot of exercises you can do for back pain relief.
Yoga is one of the most effective ways to relief back pain. There are several exercises and positions in yoga that can help quicken the healing process of the injured back muscles, and can help you avoid re-injury. Yoga improves the overall strength and flexibility in your muscles, and promotes the kind of relaxation necessary to decrease pain.
People who do yoga daily, or a couple of times a week have better endurance and flexibility as compared to people who rely only on stretching exercises. Not everyone can do all exercises and poses, but the exercises can be modified to help beginners.
The first thing caused by lower back pain is functional disability. People suffering from back pain have restrictive movement, cannot pickup weights, have trouble sitting and standing, and are in a depressive state of mind due to the consistent ailment. A major back pain can cause you to be bedridden, and the person suffering from the pain often has to rely on pain medications. Through yoga, all those problems can be resolved in a natural manner.
There are many types of yoga including Hatha yoga and Iyengar yoga. The former concentrates on physical techniques while the later focuses on proper alignment and precise movements. Both techniques have been found to be extremely useful. The breathing techniques in yoga create endurance and relaxation, while the physical exercises and positions create strength and accelerate healing. You can either concentrate on one form of yoga or another, but do it regularly and you will find yourself off the meds with a significant decrease in the amount of pain you feel in your lower back.
Lower back pain can also cause depression and an overall low emotional state in adults. Through yoga, not only your physical but your emotional condition can be improved to the point where you can overcome any depression or emotional negativity being caused by the pain.
A research conducted by West Virginia University under the banner of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine found that functional disability, pain, and depressive symptoms were reduced by 29%, 42%, and a 46% respectively, within 24 weeks of subjecting the participants to Iyengar yoga. There were 90 participants; all of them were adults with chronic lower back pain, and all of them were on pain medications. At the end of the study, there was an overall reduction in the tendency to use pain medication in the group.
The Group Health Research Institute conducted a similar study with a larger sample of people with moderate chronic back pain. The group of 228 people was divided into three categories;
The group that did physical yoga exercises should the most improvement. Researchers are of the opinion that this study settles the debate of whether the spiritual or physical aspects of yoga are more beneficial. The physical techniques provide pain relief, improve flexibility, and strengthen the lower back muscles.
If you suffer from lower back pain, you should take up yoga immediately under the watchful eye of a qualified instructor. Yoga will provide your lower back muscles with the strength, endurance, and relief they need to heal, and will prevent the injury from happening again (if the injury was induced by bad posture). If you do not suffer from lower back pain, you should still take up yoga to minimize your chances of ever injuring your lower back.