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Yoga for Back Problems

Updated on December 27, 2015

Dealing Back Problems with Yoga

Millions of people around the world suffer from back problems that cause pain and restrict mobility. Back problems vary by degree, causing everything from moderate discomfort to crippling disability.

As troublesome and painful as back problems are for men and women of all ages, treatment options sometimes seem almost as bad. Surgery, pain medications and ongoing chiropractic treatment can be inconvenient, expensive, and a source of stress and pain in themselves.

There is one attractive alternative that can help relieve symptoms associated with many back problems. Yoga is a form of exercise almost everyone can participate in, and it is very effective as a long-term strategy for treating back problems.

What is Yoga?

Yoga is a type of exercise that has been practiced in various forms for thousands of years. Yoga was designed to provide the practitioner with not only physical, but also mental benefits. It strengthens the body, promotes balance, improves flexibility, and also promotes concentration and mental clarity.

Hatha yoga is the most widely practiced type of yoga. Hatha yoga involves stretching, posturing the body in various poses and a specialized breathing technique. Yoga is a gentler, more progressive type of workout as opposed to more strenuous cardiovascular training or weightlifting. Despite its seemingly mild approach to exercise, the sequence of poses incorporated in Hatha yoga does provide individuals with a very beneficial workout.

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Benefits of Yoga for Back Problems

Hatha yoga is particularly suitable as an exercise for those suffering with back problems for several reasons. Holding the body in yoga positions strengthens not only individual muscles, but groups of muscles.

Many yoga postures target back muscles as well as abdominal muscles, which are crucial to proper posture and support of the spine. Strengthening these muscles can help reduce the injuries and poor posture that can cause back pain. For many people, stronger support for the back can reduce or even eliminate the incidence of back pain flare-ups.

Yoga helps alleviate and prevent back problems by promoting flexibility in the muscles and joints, as well. As muscles and joints work together to support the body during yoga poses, some muscles stretch while others flex. This promotes flexibility that can reduce strains and pain associated with overworking the muscles and joints that support the back.

A third way yoga can be of benefit to those with back problems is by promoting healthy circulation. Yoga involves stretching, and this results in increased blood flow to muscles, ligaments and other soft tissues in the body. Increased circulation to body tissues in the back and its support system enhances the flow of nutrients to these areas, and it also helps with the removal of toxins. The deep, rhythmic breathing yoga involves also helps promote good circulation.

Perhaps the most obvious benefit of yoga for individuals with back problems is improvement in posture and body alignment. Over time, yoga promotes good posture, which can help alleviate stress and strain on the back. Proper alignment of the pelvis, spine, neck, shoulders and head is particularly helpful in eliminating and preventing lower back pain, but it also helps with other types of back problems.

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Treating Back Pain with Yoga

If you would like to enjoy these and the many other benefits associated with yoga, it's important that you discuss your plans with the medical care provider you see for your back problems. Although yoga is almost always considered safe for individuals with mild or moderate back problems, you will want to be sure to follow your physician's advice about getting started with yoga.

The best way to start out practicing yoga is to take lessons or attend classes with an experienced instructor. Be sure to discuss your back problems with your yoga instructor before you begin. You may need to practice a milder form of yoga, or start off even more slowly then usual to avoid initial aggravation of your condition.

To achieve the maximum benefits for your back, yoga must be practiced properly. You risk injuring yourself if you try to practice yoga on your own without instruction. Once you have taken classes, you will be able to practice yoga independently.

Yoga is best used as a long-term strategy for treating back problems. Whether your condition is the result of a recent injury or a chronic condition, the best way to eliminate pain and further injury is to practice yoga consistently.

Regardless of what other types of exercise or sports you may enjoy as your back problems improve, keeping up with yoga will be beneficial to your back. Most people find yoga so enjoyable and rewarding, it is something they look forward to practicing on a very regular basis.

Additional Benefits of Yoga

Yoga can help improve your back problems through physical benefits, and it can also enable you to take a more mindful approach to managing your back condition. By practicing yoga, you will become increasingly aware of your body's capabilities and limitations. As you become more in tune with what your body is and isn't capable of, you will be less likely to injure yourself by overworking your back. Enabling you to recognize what movements and intensity of work you should avoid is one more way yoga can help with your back problems.

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