For as long as I can remember my Dad has suffered from back pain. In fact, Dad is 78 and even as a child, when we used to go and watch him play cricket, he would hit a six, start to run then beam when he realised he didn’t have to complete the run. His back just couldn’t take the pounding but Dad being Dad would carry on and do his bit to lead his Team to victory.
I am not sure how Dad hurt his back. Family folklore says he fell off a donkey when little and since then his back hasn’t been right. Whatever the reason, I recall Dad often coming home from work, back then he worked as a motor mechanic, bent over in pain yet unable to take time off work or find a pill to stop his pain. My brother and I would spend our evenings massaging Dad’s back or at his request walk on his back. He finally was allowed to retire from work due to back pain.
Yoga For Back Pain Relief
As a yoga teacher lots of my students suffer from some form of back pain and shoulder tension. And from personal experience, I know how painful back pain is, especially if you have to look after children and have a physically demanding job. Back pain can literally kill you.
Top 5 Back Pain Statistics
According to figures released by the Health and Safety Executive, UK, 2006 one in every six working days lost due to ill-health is due to back pain, and eighty percent of Britons will suffer from it at some point in their lives. Geoffrey Podger, Chief Executive of the Health and Safety Executive comments, “Surprisingly back pain will affect as many as four out of five people in Britain, and results in 4.5 million days off work a year. Employers are losing up to £335 million a year
Figures from the Health and Safety Executive – UK, 2006 show:
1. Back pain will affect 80% of us at some point in our lives.
2. One in six working days lost in the UK is due to back pain.
3. In 2004/05 an estimated 452 000 people in Great Britain suffered, in their opinion, from a musculoskeletal disorder mainly affecting the back that was caused or made worse by their current or past work.
4. It is estimated that 4.5 million working days (full-day equivalent) were lost in the previous 12 months due to work-related musculoskeletal disorders which mainly affected the back. Each person suffering from such a condition took an estimated 17.4 days off work on average in this period.
5. The charity BackCare estimates that back pain costs the NHS, business and the economy over £5 billion a year.
From a personal, social, health and economic position back pain hurts.
There is no magic cure or pill you can take to completely eliminate back pain. However, gentle yoga exercises can help to promote a sense of ease, build up back strength and improve flexibility of the spine. Vital factors in helping you manage your pain.
Relationships suffer as you are unable to socialize and join in family gatherings, your health and energy levels plummet as you try to find a way to move that doesn’t aggravate your back. l All you want to do is lay down and wish the pain away.
Yoga to the Rescue – Four Simple Yoga Poses to Ease Back Pain
As with all exercise, especially if you suffer from any form of back pain, please consult your Doctor before attempting these yoga exercises. They are safe and with appropriate care and respect for your body can help to ease back pain and promote a more flexible spine.
1. Child Pose
Sit on your heels and stretch forward with your head to the floor. Stretch your arms out in front of you and breathe deeply in and out. Slowly place your arms, palms up, next to your feet. Completely relax for 5 – 10 breaths.
2. Cat Pose.
Kneel on all fours with your arms straight and your back parallel to the floor (like a tabletop). Breathe in, lift your head and allow your waist to lower towards the floor. Keep your arms strong and straight. Hold this position for 3 – 5 breaths then slowly hunch your back and let your head relax down. Keep your palms flat on the floor and arms strong as you try to get your chin towards the top of your chest. Stay in this position for 3 – 5 breaths and slowly return your body back to centre with a flat back.
3. Downward Facing Dog.
From Cat Pose, keep your hands pressed flat against the floor beneath your shoulders. Tuck your toes under and breathe in. As you breathe out, lift your hips and stretch your legs, keeping your heels down. Keep pressing your palms into the floor. Relax your shoulders but keep your arms strong. Stay in this position for 3 – 7 breaths. Slowly come out of the pose and return to the Cat Pose and then rest in the Child Pose.
4. Supported Bridge.
Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Have your feet hip distance apart and lengthen your back towards your buttocks. Breathe in and press your lower back into the floor. Breathe out. Lift your tailbone and continue to raise yourself up into an arc. Keep your feet flat on the floor and keep pressing them into the floor whilst lifting your thighs and stomach as high as you can comfortably go. Clasp your hands underneath your back and interlace your fingers. Straighten your arms. Keep your chin tucked in. Stay focused on taking 3- 7 rounds of deep yogic breathing. Exhale, release your hands and slowly come out of the pose, one vertebra at a time from the top of your shoulders all the way down to your hips. Gently hug your knees to your chest and curl up tight like a ball.
Since I have been teaching yoga, I introduced these yoga exercises to Dad. He likes them and every now and then will spend a few minutes practicing the poses. His favourite is Cat Pose.
Guidelines When Practicing These Yoga Exercises
Take your time when you practice this simple yoga sequence. Listen to your body and remain soft in the poses as you breathe slowly and deeply into the base of your spine. Aim to practice them at least once a day, maybe when you wake up, come home from work or before your bedtime bath.
I hope your back feels looser and lighter as you continue to gently stretch your spine. Let me know how you feel after doing them. Write your comments in the box below. Thank You
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