Is your low back excessively tight? Do you have chronic pain in your lower back?
If you answered “Yes” to these questions, you’re not alone. Americans spend over $50B per each year on back pain and as much as 80% of the population will experience a back problem at some time in their lives.
Many steps can be taken to help decrease low back pain and tightness, which range from maintaining proper posture to using a mattress with the correct stiffness. Of all the steps you can take, one of the most effective may be incorporating Yoga poses into your exercise regimen. In fact, most doctors recommend a stretching routine because it can help relieve pressure on the lower back.
The following 7 Yoga poses from Celebrity Yoga instructor Kristin McGee can help increase range of motion in your joints, decrease tension in your lower back, while also reducing pain. This is the second video in this “Yoga For Men” series, the first covered 3 Beginner Yoga Poses For Men.
NOTE: Please consult with your doctor before attempting any new exercises, or exercise regimen
Yoga for Back Pain Pose #1: Boat Pose
The boat pose that can help strengthen the abdomen, hip flexors, and spine. This pose requires balance, stabilization, and flexibility, so if you have some trouble balancing, just take your time and follow these steps:
1) Sit upright on a Yoga Mat while pulling your heels in towards your hip
2) Extend your arms forward so they are parallel with the floor
3) Stretch out your legs and feet together so they form a 45 degree angle with the floor
Note: Do not round your back as complete this pose
The variation I’m demonstrating is a beginner variation with knees bent for people who do not have very flexible hamstrings. Kristin is demonstrating a more advanced version in the photo to the right with her legs fully extended.
Yoga for Back Pain Pose #2: Forward Bend
There are many different types of forward bends, but the seated forward bend allows for a lot of control and can easily be regressed depending on your flexibility. For example, I’m bending my legs at about a 20 degree angle, which makes the pose easier while someone more advanced could have the legs completely extended. Someone who is less advanced would bend the legs even more. Be careful with the forward bend in particular because if done incorrectly, it can put pressure on your intervertebral disks.
Note: Ease into the stretch slowly keeping your knees bent, then slowly straighten your legs until the point where you feel a good stretch but the pose is still comfortable.
Yoga for Back Pain Pose #3: Seated Twist
The seated twist yoga pose can help increase flexibility in your upper while stretching the shoulders, hips, and neck. As you complete this pose, the top of the thigh should be hugged as close as possible to the torso.
There are different variations () of the seated twist, which include (1) pulling your knee with your opposite hand as opposed to fully extending the arm as you twist, (2) extending the arm as I’m demonstrating in the photo, (3) palms placed together as you twist.
Note: Be careful not to round your back as you twist
Yoga for Back Pain Pose #4: Ankle to Knee Pose
The ankle to knee pose can help increase flexibility in your hips, which is often a very tight area for most men. You can complete the Ankle to Knee pose while reclined on the floor, sitting in a chair, or with your arms extended behind you as I demonstrate in the video. Choose what is most comfortable for you.
Yoga for Back Pain Pose #5: Cat Cow Pose
The “Cat Cow Pose” is really two poses in one:
Cat Pose – Lie on the ground on all fours with your head in a neutral position and a slight lower back arch. Pretend there is a string attached to the middle of your back, which is pulling your back towards the ceiling. You back should naturally round upwards and your chin should be tucked into your chest.
Cow Pose – Lie on the ground on all fours with your head in a neutral position and a slight lower back arch. Pretend there is a string attached to your abs, which is pulling your abs downward. You back should arch as you complete the pose and your head should be upward.
Yoga for Back Pain Pose #6: Crescent Lunge
The Crescent Lunge is an exceptional stretching exercise for the hip flexors, which if chronically tight can throw off your posture and cause low back pain. Like with most Yoga poses, there are different variations that range in difficulty. In the photo, I’m demonstrating a beginner version of the Crescent Lunge where the back knee is against the floor and my torso is upright. To make the pose more challenging, extend your arms backwards, as Kristin is demonstrating in the photo to the right. The most advanced version is keeping your back knee of the ground while lunging as you reach backward.
Yoga for Back Pain Pose #7: Child’s Pose
The Child’s pose is a “relaxation pose” that relaxes the muscles in your body while lengthening the muscles in your back. While this is considered a relaxation pose, if you have tight hips and quads, it’s anything but relaxing. If your body is warm and you have completed the other poses on this list, the child’s pose should be more manageable. The two variations I show in the video are (1) with arms extended forward, and (2) with arms extended backwards, which requires more shoulder flexibility.
I want to send a special thanks to Kristin for sharing her time and insights. I hope this article was helpful for you and you can give some of these poses a try.
Kristin McGee is a celebrity Yoga Instructor based in NYC whose clients include Steve Martin, Tina Faye, Ben Stiller, and Bethany Frankel. Kristin has appeared on CNN, FOX, the CBS Morning Show, ABC’s Good Morning America, The Tyra Banks Show, and the Isaac Mizrahi Show. Her instruction is highly sought after because she delivers results and invites you to enjoy the journey. To learn more about Kristin and check out here DVD’s, private classes, or sessions in NYC, visit her website at www.KristinMcGee.com.