Yoga Supported Bridge Pose for Back Pain

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Benefits of Supported Bridge Pose

Bridge pose with anatomy diagram
Bridge pose with anatomy diagram. Science Picture Co/Collection Mix: Subjects/Getty Images

The yoga supported bridge pose may help relieve your low back pain.  Here are a few of the touted benefits:

  • By putting the front of your thighs on a stretch, it may change the balance between the strength and flexibility of your hip muscles.
  • Taking your hips in the air may introduce/further multi-joint motion, posture education and core control.
    • It takes the challenge of the pelvic tilt into space, giving core muscles new variables to resolve via strength and stretch.
    • The supported bridge pose may ignite or even strengthen the core abdominals necessary for controlling pelvic tilt. 
    • It encourages a balanced position of the pelvis, which readies the posture muscles for productive therapeutic work.)
  • This position may help strengthen low back muscles.

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Supported Bridge Pose and Back Pain

yoga class
yoga class. urbancow/E+/Getty Images

When rehabbing an injury, it is best to work in a position that provides the most relief of symptoms. Once you have established yourself in the supported bridge pose, take a moment to notice if any of your symptoms are present. If so, stop the session and ask your doctor if the pose is appropriate for your particular condition. If you don't notice symptoms, or once you get the okay from your health provider, try it again.

Supported Bridge Pose and Acute Back Pain


Experts recommend modified activity following a low back injury.  If you have acute back pain or a flare-up, you may possibly be better off waiting until the episode is over, before assuming the supported bridge pose. That said, if the position makes your back feel better, it may be a way to stay active without over doing things.  Discuss this with your doctor or  physical therapist if you are unsure.

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Warm Up with the Pelvic Tilt

Drawing in maneuver can help get your abs to support your back.
Drawing in maneuver can help get your abs to support your back.

Warm up for the supported bridge pose with the pelvic tilt.  This is to gently stretch the muscles of the low back and pelvis.

As you move, respect the limits of your pain to avoid complicating any back problem or pain you may have. If the area is inflamed, it's probably best to stop the exercise session and take care of it.

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Feeling Supported - A Person with Back Pain is like a Beginner

Yoga blocks, mat and belts.
Yoga blocks, mat and belts. cassp/E+/Getty Images

About’s Yoga Expert, Ann Pizer has a written and illustrated description on how to do the supported bridge pose. In it, she gives 2 variations: Beginner and advanced.

The beginner’s version, with the block under the sacrum, is the more appropriate version if you have a back problem. This is because it provides added support to injured or vulnerable areas, which may lessen  the chance of re-injury.

Placement of the block under your sacrum should be such that contact across the back is even. This is a matter of block placement in relation to the sacrum, coccyx and low back --- it is not about muscular effort. The sacrum should be given first priority; the block should not be so low or so high that most of the support is offered to the coccyx or low back and only a little to the sacrum. 

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Hip, Core and Back Muscles Benefit from a Bridge Pose

An image of the lower half of a skeleton plus hamstring and calf muscles.
The hamstring muscles are located at the back of your thighs. MedicalRF.com/MedicalRF.com/Getty Images

In the supported pelvic bridge, the core abdominal, back, hip and hamstring muscles work in concert to bring and keep the lower body in the air. It is a multi-joint movement, which many experts believe is the best way to activate, use and strengthen your core.

A 2006 research study published in the journal BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders  showed that bridging exercises  put the oblique abdominal muscles to work to remedy non-neutral pelvic positions.

The obliques help establish and maintain a centered alignment of the pelvis and low back. This has significance when you consider that the bridge removes the supporting surface from underneath the back of the pelvis. The supported bridge pose mediates the transition when the block is places under the sacrum.

Sources:

Cairns, Mindy C. PhD, MMACP, MCSP, MSc (Manip Ther) *; Foster, Nadine E. DPhil, BSc (Hons), MCSP, PGCE +; Wright, Chris BSc, AFIMA, FSS ++. Randomized Controlled Trial of Specific Spinal Stabilization Exercises and Conventional Physiotherapy for Recurrent Low Back Pain. Spine J 2006 Sept 1.

Kisner, Carolyn, M.S. P.T. and Colby, Lynn Allen, M.S. P.T. Therapeutic Exercise Foundations and Techniques. 4th ed. 2002. F.A. Davis Company. Philadelphia, PA. 

Martuscello, J., et. al. Systematic review of core muscle activity during physical fitness exercises. J Strength Cond Res. June 2013. Accessed: March 2016. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23542879

Stevens VK, Bouche KG, Mahieu NN, Coorevits PL, Vanderstraeten GG, Danneels, LA.Trunk muscle activity in healthy subjects during bridging stabilization exercises BMC Musculoskeletal Disor Sept 20 2006

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