5 Benefits Of Yoga For Back Pain
Chronic back pain affects millions of people around the world, and prevalence rates continue to rise. Aside from the aspect of pain, it can also lead to disability, psychological distress, and ultimately, a decreased quality of life.
If you’re a back-pain sufferer, you may want to consider trying yoga to ease your back pain symptoms. The practice of yoga aims to relax, stretch and strengthen your muscles, increase your flexibility, improve your balance, and relax your mind. The effects of yoga may help to decrease your back pain symptoms, improve function, and enhance your quality of life.
What is Yoga?
Yoga involves a group of practices that includes physical, mental, and spiritual aspects. In other words, yoga is a type of exercise that involves both the mind and the body, using a combination of muscular movements and an internally directed mindful focus on various aspects of awareness including self, breath, and energy.
Hatha yoga is one type of yoga that is commonly practiced by individuals suffering with back pain. Hatha yoga involves a set of exercises, known as postures or asanas, combined with a sequence of asanas that have been designed to align the tissues of the body, including the bones, muscles, and skin. The postures used in Hatha yoga are designed to open the channels of the body, including the spine, to allow energy to flow freely within the body.
Benefits of Yoga for Back Pain
Yoga provides many benefits to back pain sufferers. Below, we’ll outline 5 of the major benefits that you may experience by regularly participating in yoga.
1. Relaxes and Stretches Muscles
Each individual yoga pose is held for 10 to 60 seconds and incorporates relaxation and stretching of muscles, which helps to relieve muscular tension. During each pose, certain muscles flex, while other muscle stretch. This combination of movements encourages relaxation and increased flexibility of the joints and muscles of the back.
2. Strengthens Muscles
Each individual yoga pose targets specific muscle groups and individual muscles, with many of the poses targeting the muscles of the back and abdomen. Strengthening of these muscles occurs by holding the pose and incorporating various movement patterns throughout the session. When the muscles of the back and abdomen are strong and conditioned properly, lower back pain may significantly decrease.
3. Improves Blood Flow
The practice of yoga involves a focus on deep and rhythmic breathing through the nose when inhaling and exhaling with each pose. This breathing technique helps to provide whole body relaxation and encourages increased blood flow throughout the body. Improved blood flow brings nourishment in and flushes waste out, helping to improve the environment surrounding the muscles of the back.
4. Promotes a Neutral Spinal Alignment
Each yoga pose trains the body to be adaptable to change while maintaining a neutral spinal alignment (the natural curvature of your spine). Practicing yoga regularly helps to improve posture and balance by training your body to keep your head, shoulders, and pelvis aligned properly.
5. Improves Mental Health
Yoga helps to focus your energy on breathing and maintaining a neutral posture during each pose. Additionally, the regular practice of yoga puts your mind into a relaxed state, allowing you to meditate during the exercise. These effects help to decrease stress and anxiety, and also enhance your mood. A relaxed state of being and enhanced mood can help combat the negative psychological effects that chronic back pain can inflict.
To understand better how improved mental health affects back pain, let’s take a look at the mind-body connection of pain perception. Research has shown that back pain can increase as the result of your pain perception. While negative psychological factors may not affect the physiology of your back pain, they can intensify back pain that already exists. Consequently, if you’re able to reduce your pain perception, by participating in meditation during your yoga sessions, you may have the ability to also reduce your sensation of back pain. This mind-body connection may go even deeper, as some individuals believe that psychological factors are the primary influencers of pain sensation. This means that negative thoughts and feelings may actually increase back pain, which then creates additional negative psychological feelings, perpetuating a circle of pain.
If you’re a back-pain sufferer and you’re looking for relief, one solution to try may be yoga. Research has shown that it can help to decrease pain, improve function, and enhance quality of life; additionally, it may also help to reduce stress and anxiety and improve overall mood. Therefore, it may prove to be an effective conservative treatment option if you’re looking for a non-invasive pain management technique.
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