Life can be back-breaking.
Well, maybe not actually back-breaking, but daily activities, from working (whether it’s in an office or on a construction site), to working out, to keeping up with children or grandchildren can all take a toll on your back.
Actually, back pain is the sixth most costly condition plaguing Americans, with nearly 65 million adults reportedly experiencing back pain, and roughly 16 million adults experiencing such pain chronically.
So, if you find yourself in the same position as millions of others, looking for relief from back pain, a few simple yoga poses may offer much needed (and inexpensive) relief.
The following 10 yoga poses are aimed to offer such relief, and the only thing you’ll need is a yoga mat or soft surface and perhaps a yoga block or towel if preferred for a few poses.
1- Downward Dog
The downward dog yoga pose works to strengthen the abdominal muscles, which in turn support proper posture in your low back.
- To do the downward dog pose, you’ll begin in a “tabletop” position with your hands and knees on the floor. Your knees should be hip width apart, your feet directly behind your knees. Your palms should be directly under your shoulders with your fingers facing forward.
- Walk your hands forward slightly. Exhale and lift your knees, raising your pelvis towards the ceiling, straightening your legs in the process. If you can’t completely straighten your legs, keeping a slight bend in your knees is perfectly fine.
- Your palms should be firmly pressed to the ground. Keep your elbows straight and your shoulders wide. Your head should be between your upper arms, but not hanging, tucking your chin slightly.
- Lengthen your spine and tailbone as you stretch.
- You can begin with your heels off the ground, then plant them on the floor as you get more flexible. You can also bend one leg at a time for a deeper stretch.
The cobra movement, though sometimes thought to cause back pain, can actually work to soothe back pain, mobilize your spine, and bring needed relief. It is essentially the sphinx pose in a deeper stretched position.
It is most often recommended to start in the sphinx pose and extend to the cobra pose if tolerable with back pain. (The instructions below will begin in the sphinx pose and progress to cobra.)
This movement works to strengthen your spine using muscle groups in your legs, butt, arms, and shoulders.
- To avoid back pain and fully benefit from the cobra pose, begin by lying on your belly with your feet hip-width apart.
- Work to press your toes into the ground, engaging your leg muscles.
- Place your elbows under your shoulders, keeping your forearms on the mat (or floor) parallel to each other.
- Inhale, and lift your upper torso off the ground, pushing through your forearms.
- For a deeper stretch, you can incorporate the cobra pose simply by moving your palms back, placing them on each side of your rib cage. And, as you inhale, lift your chest off the floor, tightening your shoulder blades against your back.
3- Child’s Pose
Have you ever watched a young child play on the floor, usually in this case with toy cars and trucks?
This activity specifically seems to necessitate their precious little head be placed on one side, parallel with the floor, one hand holding and playing with said toy car, the other stretched out in front. Their back is fully extended, knees tucked underneath their tiny hiney.
And, the wonder of wonders? They can remain in this position seemingly for hours! And ya know, I’ve never heard a toddler lament of back pain.
Perhaps they can hold this pose for such lengths of time because it is technically both a resting and active position. It stretches your hips, thighs, ankles, and happens to be a top position noted for relieving back pain!
If you don’t have a youngster at home to model this pose, or need a few more specifics than those listed in the description above, the official step-by-step instructions are listed below.
- Sit back on your heels, your big toes together, your knees hip-width apart.
- As you exhale, “walk” your palms in front of you on the mat (or floor) as far as you can reach. Then, gently rest your head on the floor between your hands.
- You can keep your arms extended in front of you, or bring them back alongside the length of your body with your palms facing upward.
- Breathe deeply and rest in this position.
4- Knees To Chest
This pose offers a great stretch to your lumbar spine (low back muscles). It grants needed relief of pressure to your spinal nerves as it creates space near your low back where those nerves exit the spine.
- Lying flat on your back, exhale and bring your knees to your chest “hugging” them with your arms.
- Keep your head straight, looking upward.
- Optional: remaining in this pose and gently rocking sideways, with your core tightened or engaged, can offer a slight massaging effect on the spine.
The classic spinal position of a scared cat, arched high, and the seemingly lazy natural spinal position of a grazing cow, sunk low, can offer great relief when mimicked in alternating fashion.
This pose stretches and mobilizes the spine, working abdominal, glute, and spinal muscles.
Personally, I find this just as relaxing as child’s pose, but then again, I’m naturally a bit jumpy and therefore can relate to the cat. 😉
- Begin in a tabletop position with your hands and knees on the floor. Your knees should be hip width apart, your feet directly behind your knees. Your palms should be directly under your shoulders with your fingers facing forward. Your weight should be evenly balanced between all four points (hands and knees).
- Keep your back straight and your head/eyes facing the floor.
- For cat pose, exhale and arch your back towards the ceiling, tucking your chin to your chest. You should feel a deep stretch in your middle back.
- As you inhale, you’ll transition to cow pose where you’ll drop your belly, rounding your spine. As you do this, your gaze should shift, looking up towards the ceiling.
- The transition between poses shouldn’t feel forced. Let the movements ease into one another as you slowly and gently inhale and exhale.
The ragdoll pose is a simple pose that releases tension in your lower back as it stretches your hamstring and calf muscles in your legs.
- Stand tall with your feet flat on the floor, hip-width apart, toes pointing forward.
- Inhale gently, but deeply, lifting your arms up over your head as you breathe in.
- As you exhale, bend forward, bending your knees and allowing your stomach to “rest” on your thighs.
- Wrap your arms around each other, grasping opposite elbows.
- Your upper body should be relaxed, hanging down loosely.
- Optional: if desired, you can gently and slowly sway side to side in this hanging position.
The bridge pose both acts as a workout for your spine as well as offering relief for back pain as it stretches the back of your neck, your spine, thighs, front hip joints, and hamstrings.
The positioning of your heart during this pose (considered a mild inversion) also offers other benefits to your body, namely relief from stress, headaches, anxiety, and fatigue.
- Begin by lying flat on your back with your arms at your sides, palms facing down.
- Bend your knees and bring your heels as close to your butt as you can.
- Inhaling, lift your buttocks, pressing your feet and arms into the ground firmly.
- Your thighs and feet should remain parallel as you bring your shoulder blades closer together while you clasp your palms together (positioned under your back and buttocks, which are now in the air).
- Attempt to press the top of your chest to your chin.
- Optional: if this pose is too difficult, try placing a towel or blanket under your shoulders to protect your neck. You can also use yoga blocks for pelvic support.
8- Thread The Needle
Noted for offering relief for chronic shoulder and back pain, this pose opens up the shoulders and stretches the spine.
It is considered a calming pose offering benefit to beginners and experts alike.
- Begin this pose in a tabletop position with your hands and knees on the floor. Your knees should be hip width apart, your feet directly behind your knees. Your palms should be directly under your shoulders with your fingers facing forward.
- Bring your palms slightly forward moving them a bit wider than shoulder-width apart.
- Inhale and extend your right hand upward, twisting your torso, looking upward as you twist.
- As you exhale, bring your right hand down, under your left arm. Let your right ear and right shoulder gently rest on the floor, keeping your left arm in its bent (original) position.
- Inhale, returning back to neutral position, then repeat on the opposite side.
9- Seated Twist
The seated twist pose can help to relieve back pain as it stretches your hips, shoulders, chest, and neck. As the pose opens up your hips and chest, it can prove beneficial for both lower and upper back pain.
- Begin this pose by sitting on the floor in an upright position with your legs extended.
- Bend your right knee, bringing your right foot to the outer side of your left thigh.
- Next, bend your left knee, bringing your left heel to your right glute.
- Place your right hand (raised up on your fingertips) behind you, which should allow a gentle twist in your upper body.
- Lift your left arm, bend it at the elbow and place that elbow at the outer side of your right knee, deepening the twisted position of your body.
- As you exhale, seek to deepen the twist, feeling the stretch in your back.
- Repeat on the opposite side.
10- Two Knee Spinal Twist
This pose not only stretches your spine, back, and shoulders, but it also promotes movement in these areas as well.
If you are experiencing pain or stiffness in your back or hips, this pose can prove to be very beneficial.
- Begin by lying on your back with your knees pulled to your chest with your arms extended on each side of your body on the floor.
- Keeping your arms flat on the floor, slowly lower your legs (knees remain bent and close together) to the left side.
- Breathe deeply in this position, hold for 30 seconds, then repeat, lowering your legs (kept in the same position) to the opposite side.
- You can keep your neck straight or opt to turn it to either side during this movement, whichever is most comfortable.
- Optional: you can also place a pillow between your knees or under them on the floor on either side for comfort.
900 year old “cure” for low back pain
Did you know that Leonardo Da Vinci (the father of modern anatomy) fixed low back pain some 900 years ago?
Buried in his research journals…
Da Vinci wrote about something called the iliacus muscle.
Which is a large muscle that helps attach your hips to our spine. And for many people…
You see when your iliacus muscle gets too tight (from things like sitting too long or not enough exercise)…
It starts to pull on the vertebrae in your spinal column — and it can pull them so hard that it not only puts pressure on your other back muscles… but also on the sensitive nerves that run up and down your spine.
This is why physical therapy, chiropractors, and even surgery never seem to fully get rid of back pain. They don’t get to the root of what’s causing the problem!
So how do you stretch your iliacus muscle and relieve your lower back pain?
With a simple movement that can relieve your back pain in less than one minute.
I know that’s a big promise… but it’s worked again and again for this Pennsylvania doctor’s patients.
Including Matt J, who after 1 day of using the movement woke up the next morning pain free.
Sal B, who used the movement for 3 days and became completely back pain free.
And Brian W., who says: “After using the movement for just one day, the pain has completely disappeared!”
Find out exactly what to do to relieve your lower back pain in less than 60 seconds right here: