Yoga for Back Flexibility

Things to Consider

Woman doing a lunge.
The lunge position or exercise can help stretch tight quads. AmeliaFox

When doing yoga to increase your back's flexibility, balance is the word. Balance is achieved by doing a combination of actions that oppose one another as you move through the poses. For back pain sufferers, it doesn't have to be a challenging workout. But it is important to follow up bending forward, for example, with bending back. Balanced work strengthens and stretches the back and abs, and helps them to coordinate spinal stability.

It prevents the predominance of strength in certain muscles over others, a precursor to back injury. This article presents a series of 4 yoga poses for the flexibility of your back.

What Type of Back Injury Do You Have?

It is a good idea to start by assessing any back injuries you may have either currently or in the past. The poses presented in this article alternate between arching the back and rounding it. To know when to take it easy on your back, understand the nature of your injury. As a general rule, facet joint problems such as spondylolysis will be irritated by arching the back. Disk problems may be worsened by rounding the back. Ask your doctor or therapist if you're ready for these spinal movements and to suggest any necessary safety precautions.


Stage of Healing

If you are working with a back injury, be aware that there are stages of injury healing, each one with its own implication for physical movement.

In the acute and subacute stages, which are the first two, you will likely be under the guidance of your doctor and/or physical therapist. Usually, the third and final stage is the most appropriate for taking on yoga to help heal and strengthen your back. Of course, if you don't have an injury, then you can use yoga to maintain your present condition level, to prevent injury and/or to address minor aches and pains.


Cat-Cow Pose

In the cat-cow pose, you move your spine back and forth between rounding and arching. Here, it really pays to know the nature of your injury because one of the two movements may affect it. Cat-cow has several benefits, among them:

  1. establishes ideal spinal alignment
  2. strengthens and stretches back muscles
  3. develops coordination of spinal movement.


Yoga Poses and Back Pain

Downward Facing Dog Pose

Downward facing dog (or down dog for short) is a basic yet challenging yoga pose that stretches and lengthens the spine, develops shoulder muscles and can address postural conditions such as kyphosis.


Cobra Pose

While the cobra pose is a pose that many people readily associate with yoga, its not safe for all types of back problems. The basic movement of the cobra is to arch the spine backward. People with facet joint problems, for example, spondylolisthesis, should approach cobra pose cautiously, if at all. Facet joint problems tend to become irritated when the spine is arched. Ask your doctor or physical therapist if this pose is okay for your condition.


Child's Pose

The child’s pose is a beginner yoga pose that stretches the muscles of the low back, as well as the inner thighs. For those with tight back and hip muscles, this will, of course, feel like work. But get beyond the tension, and child’s pose is deeply relaxing. It promotes flexibility, stress relief and helps circulation to the muscles, joints and disks of the back.



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