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Yoga And Back Injuries

Sunday, 19 February 2012 21:58

Written by Peter Benalla

Back problems are often a hazard, making it difficult to do the common things that most take for granted: lift objects, bend down, or yoga and back painevensitting in a cushy armchair. While GPs recommend diets, pills, and hospital treatments to help cope with enduring symptoms, more and more people have been turning to non-western approaches to help them overcome their problems. Why? Because they work. One alternative technique has been particularly popular for back pain sufferers: yoga.

How does it work?

Yoga comes in many different forms, some of which are more of a workout and others which soothe the mind and body. Through a combination of poses and breathing exercises, yoga aims to help your body get aligned, improve you posture, and make you more aware of what your body is doing.

Osteopaths and yoga experts recommend a style that is known as hatha yoga for people who are suffering from back problems, as it is one of the gentlest forms that involves careful stretches, easy breathing exercises, and practices of the basic yoga poses. They discourage yoga variations such as Bikram and Ashtanga, as they can be hard on the back. Hatha yoga can make it easier to recover quickly from back problems such as Sciatica, Osteoarthritis and Fibromyalgia, and can also prevent them from occurring in the first place.

What you can do

Here are some hatha exercises you can follow to increase your backs strength and flexibility, while soothing some of the worst pain:

1) Begin with a stretch before moving into to the exercise poses. Start in the Mountain Pose position : stand up straight with your feet together, balance the weight of your body evenly over the feet, and slightly press your arms into the sides of your body. Stay in a firm posture while tightening your buttocks and stomach muscles, and breathe in slowly through the nose, out through the mouth.

2) Crescent Moon Pose: this pose strengthens your back, legs, and shoulders, helping you build extra stamina. Complete it in two steps:

Kneel down onto your knees and keep a straight back. Take a step forward with your right foot until the foot is a little past your right knee. Keep the leg parallel to the floor.

Stretch both arms above your head, hooking the thumbs together. Keeping your balance, slowly lift your left knee off the floor, stretch out the leg, and make sure your weight is spread evenly over both the front and leg. Pay attention to keeping your chest low, otherwise you create a hollow in your back.

3) The Child Pose: this pose helps you stretch your spine, hips, and thighs, and should help alleviate the psychical and emotional stresses in your body. Carry it out in three steps:

Kneel onto your knees, keeping the knees slightly parted, sitting with your feet pointing outwards.

Gently place your forehead on the floor in front of you and swing your arms forward, so that your shoulders brush your ears.

With your head still touching the floor, bring your arms around to your sides, with the palms facing upwards.

This non-western approach can therefore be a great supplement or alternative to the treatments that are commonly adopted in the UK. As long as you take great care when carrying out each pose, hatha yoga can make you feel fitter and younger.

Andrew Mitchell, editor of the Osteopath Network, writes articles about cranial osteopaths, osteopaths, London osteopaths , back pain, neck pain, injury management. Andrew is interested in many aspects of alternative medicine.

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