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How to Manage Your Chronic Pain with Yoga

Published on 1st June 2022
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Back pain is a common medical condition, especially lower back pain.
How to Manage Your Chronic Pain with Yoga
  1. Power of Exercise to Reduce Back Pain
  2. Managing Back Pain with a Mental and Physical Approach
  3. Best Yoga Poses for Back Pain
  4. Exercises for Lower Back Pain for Seniors
  5. Yoga for Back Pain Works
how to manage your chronic pain with yoga

Back pain is a common medical condition, especially lower back pain. The American Association of Neurological Surgeons says that 75-85 percent of people in the U.S. will experience back pain. Approximately 50 percent of patients with low back pain will have more episodes within a year. Fortunately, around 90 percent of low back pain episodes are temporary. When experiencing pain, you want to do everything possible to reduce the pain level, and yoga poses for back pain can be helpful in many cases.

Power of Exercise to Reduce Back Pain

When people experience back pain, the first inclination is to rest. However, resting for longer than 24-48 hours can worsen back pain because the back muscles and ligaments get stiff. One of the self-management recommendations by the National Institutes of Health is to do exercises that strengthen the abdominal and core muscles to reduce recovery time. Gentle exercises strengthen the structures that support the spine, reduce stiffness and increase circulation.

The exercises should be gentle in that they do not jar the spine but are intense enough to stretch and strengthen the core muscles and other supporting structures. A study at the Boston University School of Medicine and Boston Medical Center was conducted to assess whether yoga is as effective as physical therapy. 
There were three groups of study participants. One group participated in 12 weekly yoga classes that addressed chronic back pain. And the second group participated in physical therapy. The third group only received information resources on self-management of chronic low back pain. The yoga and physical therapy groups did the best, but the results also found that a structured yoga program could be an alternative to physical therapy.

Managing Back Pain with a Mental and Physical Approach

Chronic pain has many dimensions in that your mental and physical condition impact feelings of discomfort. The physical aspect concerns the arousal of the nervous system, which increases muscle tension. The mental aspect also influences pain because mental distress contributes to erratic breathing and a faster heart rate. Yoga exercises produce feelings of relaxation, which delivers the following benefits.

  • Decreases an overactive metabolism
  • Calms rapid breathing through breathing control
  • Slows a rapid heart rate
  • Reduces muscle tension
  • Modulates brain activity which brings down nervous system activity

Yoga produces numerous positive benefits that can reduce pain. There are many variations of yoga, so how do you begin? Beginner yoga for lower back pain includes exercises that are easy to learn and master and focus mainly on stretching. You may decide later on that you want to advance and learn more difficult poses, but it is important to keep the exercises gentle at first to address back pain.

Some beginner exercises include:

1. Forward fold halfway

Bend at the waist, touch your fingertips to the floor; put your hands on your shins, lift your torso halfway up; stand upright.

2. Child’s pose

Bending at the knees on the floor with feet pointed toward the back of your body and knees slightly spread apart, rest the buttocks on your knees; bend at the waist and place your torso on the thighs; touch the forehead to the floor and hold one minute.

3. Bridge pose

Lie on your back on the floor with arms beside your thighs; Bend the knees and press the feet solidly on the floor; lift the back, chest and hips toward the ceiling and hold for 30 seconds.

beginner exercises to reduce back pain

There are many other gentle beginner yoga poses that may bring soothing relief. The key is to do the exercises regularly.

Best Yoga Poses for Back Pain

After you have completed the beginner yoga exercises focused on building back strength, you can add some poses that add some twisting motions. They include exercises like the following.

1. Seated side twist

Just like it sounds, sit on the floor, first with the legs stretched out; bend the right knee; place the right foot on the outside of your left thigh; turn the torso to the right while placing the right hand on the ground behind you

2. Supine twist

Laying on the floor, place the arms out perpendicular to the body; put the left foot on the right knee; drop the left knee towards the floor while keeping the shoulders flat

This is just a sample of yoga poses that can address back pain. The beginner and twisting poses are yoga poses to stretch the lower back and the rest of the back. The various postures are called asanas.

Exercises for Lower Back Pain for Seniors

Some seniors cannot sit on the floor to do yoga exercises. There are yoga exercises for lower back pain for seniors that are completed while sitting in a chair. For example, sit in a chair with hands behind the head at the top of the neck and bend from side to side. In another example, remain seated in the chair, placing the hands on the lower back and gently arch the spine.

Yoga for Back Pain Works

yoga for back pain

Doing yoga exercises is an effective pain management strategy for low to medium back pain. It eases stress, stretches muscles and ligaments and improves breathing. You can work with a yoga therapist to specifically address your back pain or attend a yoga class where an instructor demonstrates the correct form for each pose.

It is recommended that you consult a Sapna pain clinic specialist before starting a yoga routine. The specialist will assess your condition and determine if you could include yoga exercises in your pain treatment plan.



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