How to prevent Back Pain – Five easy Yoga positions

Back Pain Introduction and Statistics

Hi there,

If you’ve ever had lower back pain, you are not alone.

On a few occasions, I’ve had back pain too.

In fact, many of us have – lower back pain is the third most common reason people see a doctor. In the US, back pain is also one of the most common reasons for absence from work.

More than one in three adults say back pain impacts their everyday activities.

Lower back pain affects people of all ages, from children to the elderly, with the first occurrence of lower back pain typically occurring between the ages of 30 and 50, and becoming more common as we age

Anyone can experience back pain. In the US, it is estimated that up to 80% of the population will experience back pain at some time in their lives. An estimated 10% of the world’s population suffers from lower back pain.

For most people, back pain is only temporary but it can be more serious too.

Most people with acute lower back recover within six weeks but recurrence is likely.

29% of Americans believe stress is the cause of their back pain. Over half of those Americans that experience back pain are office workers.

By the way, the three major causes for stress are:

  • the death of a family member.
  • divorce (as explained in my book “ZAK MILO speaks of Divorce”).
  • the loss of a job or employment uncertainty (a major issue during these COVID-19 times).

While there are many causes of lower back pain, a weak core and poor posture from sitting all day have been identified as common contributing factors to lower back aches and discomfort.

So the question is how can we prevent back pain and what’s the best way to do it?

My advice is to do what I did and practise YOGA.

How Yoga Helps Prevent Back Pain

There are a few simple strategies that can help prevent back pain:

  • Maintaining a healthy diet and weight
  • Staying active
  • Warming up or stretching every day
  • Maintaining proper posture.

In my opinion, YOGA covers all four points mentioned above. As they say, it’s a “One stop shop.”

By practicing yoga for at least 10 minutes a day, you will gain more awareness of your body.

This awareness will help you notice where you’re holding tension and where you have imbalances.

You can use this awareness to bring yourself into balance and alignment.

Yoga’s focus on balance and steadiness encourages your body to develop defences against the causes of back pain, which include weak abdominal and pelvic muscles, as well as a lack of flexibility in the hips.

When you strengthen these muscles, you improve your posture, which reduces the load on your back, and this reduces the aches you feel. In addition, stretching can increase flexibility by increasing blood flow to tight muscles.

Certain yoga postures can help lengthen your spine, and return your back to its proper healthy state and proper alignment.

The yoga postures teach and help you to stretch and strengthen your muscles, which helps reduce muscular tension, build flexibility and strength, and improve balance and bone strength.

Yoga is affordable and accessible, and can be done at home, or in the office, yoga studio, park, airport…basically anywhere and everywhere.

Do you want to help yourself or someone else prevent back pain?

I recommend you practise the five yoga positions below at least three times per week, with five breaths for each position. Some of the positions are included in my books “Yoga for Over 40s”“Yoga for Over 50s” and “Yoga for Over 60s”. 

  1. Cat Pose (Marjaryasana) and Cow Pose (Bitilasana)
  2. Child’s Pose (Balasana)
  3. Paschimottanasana – Seated Forward Bend
  4. Pigeon Pose – Eka Pada Rajakapotasana
  5. Sucirandhrasana – Eye of the Needle

Begin your practice with a gentle Cat-Cow pose.

1. Cat Pose (Marjaryasana) and Cow Pose (Bitilasana)

Cat Pose

Cow Pose

Technical details and how to start:

  • Start this pose on all fours/table top position. Your wrists are under your shoulders and your knees are under your hips. Spine is neutral and your weight balanced evenly across your body.
  • Inhale and look up, and let your stomach curve toward the floor, lifting your chin and eyes.
  • Exhale, moving chin to chest, and draw your navel toward your spine, rounding your spine toward the ceiling.
  • Do this three times with 5 breaths in and out.

Benefits:

  • Improves posture and balance
  • Strengthens and stretches the spine and neck
  • Stretches the hips, abdomen and back
  • Increases coordination
  • Massages and stimulates organs in the belly, including the kidneys and adrenal glands
  • Warms up the spine.

2. Child’s Pose (Balasana)

Technical details and how to start:

  • Kneel on the floor. Big toes touching, widen your knees until they’re hip-width apart or in a comfortable position for you.
  • Exhale and reach forward, stretching your hands in front of you, forehead to the mat or as close as possible.
  • Relax in this position for five breaths in and out.

Benefits:

  • Gently stretches your lower back, hips, thighs, knees, and ankles.
  • Relaxes you spine, shoulders, and neck.
  • Increases blood circulation to your head, which reduces headaches.
  • Massages your internal organs.
  • Calms the mind, helping relieve stress and tension.

3. Paschimottanasana – Seated Forward Bend


Position A


Position B

Technical details and how to start:

  • Sit on the floor with your legs stretched out straight in front of you.
  • Keep your spine erect and toes flexed toward you.
  • Inhale and raise both your arms above your head and stretch up.
  • Exhale and bend forward and extend your torso over your legs, keeping the spine erect and catch and hold of your ankles or shins, (position A) or the big toes with your thumb and two fingers (position B).
  • Inhale and slightly lift your head and elongate the spine.
  • Exhale and bring your navel towards the knees.
  • Stay for five breaths or longer.
  • Inhale and raise up as you stretch up your arms above your head.
  • Exhale and bring your hands down.

Benefits:

  • Calms the brain and helps relieve stress and mild depression.
  • Stretches the spine, shoulders and hamstrings.
  • Stimulates the liver, kidneys, ovaries and uterus.
  • Improves digestion.
  • Helps relieve the symptoms of menopause and menstrual discomfort.
  • Soothes headache and anxiety, and reduces fatigue.
  • Decreases appetite.

4. Pigeon Pose – Eka Pada Rajakapotasana

Technical details and how to start:

  • From all fours, bring your left leg forward towards your right wrist.
  • Your left ankle will be somewhere in front of your right hip.
  • Slide your right leg back and point your toes, your heel pointing up to the ceiling as in the picture.
  • Try to keep your hips level. If required, use a support under your right buttock.
  • As you inhale, rise through your fingertips, lengthen your spine, draw your navel in and open your chest.
  • As you exhale, walk your hands forward and lower your upper body towards the floor. You can rest your forearms and forehead on the mat.
  • Stay for five breaths or longer.
  • On each exhalation, try to release the tension in your left hip.
  • To come out of the pose, push back through the hands, lift your hips and move your leg back so you are on all fours.
  • Repeat on the other side.

Benefits:

  • Opens the hip joint.
  • Lengthens the hip flexor.
  • Stretches the thighs.
  • Extends the groin and psoas.
  • Helps with urinary disorders.
  • Stimulates the internal organs.
  • Improves posture, alignment and overall suppleness.
  • Helps lower back pain and stiffness.

5. Sucirandhrasana – Eye of the Needle

Technical details and how to start:

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent and the soles of your feet on the floor.
  • Catch and bring your left knee into your chest.
  • Cross your right foot over your body and rest your right ankle on the left knee / thigh.
  • Let your right knee relax away from your torso.
  • Using your hands, draw your left knee / thigh toward your chest while exhaling. This will cause your right hip to open. Make sure that your shoulder and head are on the ground.
  • Continue to breathe deeply and relax the left knee to open the hips.
  • Repeat on the other side.

Benefits:

  • Opens the hips and legs.
  • Releases the lower back.
  • Relieves anxiety and calms the mind.

Recommended props:

If you can’t do certain positions, or need some help to experience the full benefit of some positions and feel comfortable, I recommend the following props:

  • two blocks
  • a bolster
  • a strap.

Tips to protect your back on the mat

  • Avoid twisting and extending at the same time.
  • If you can’t reach your toes, use a yoga strap.
  • Come out of any pose that is uncomfortable.

Disclaimer

Please note: Yoga complements traditional therapies and is not meant to be a sole treatment. It should not be used as a substitute for medical advice from your doctor.

Thank you.

Drazen Milosevic

Yoga by D: Can offer advice on:

  • Better hair grow control
  • Better weight control
  • Stabilised blood pressure
  • Decreased stress levels
  • Better sleep
  • Combating aging pains
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