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Neck pain: safe abdominal exercises

It takes some ingenuity to find exercises that can strengthen core muscles when you have neck pain. The traditional abdominal crunches, where you interlace the fingers behind the head to lift the head and shoulders, are often out of the question. Not being able to do abdominal exercises can be frustrating, especially if you have lower back pain, because these muscles are instrumental in keeping the lower back healthy. This blog presents two ways of working core muscles while leaving your head relaxed on the mat. I realise that these movements are not strictly yoga. However, doing the exercises with full attention makes them more ‘yogic’ than a headstand in which the performer is distracted and trying to outdo the yogi next to him or her. It is the attention that counts.

15-minute Back Care Basics

Everyone with back pain knows that there is no 15-minute fix; everyone doing yoga knows that 15 minutes a day is not long enough to really get into the practice. Nevertheless, when you have back pain, making time for daily stretches will help you. It is making regular, small changes that can make a big difference. This is what I observe with my students who schedule 10 to 15 minutes for their yoga routine in the morning or before going to bed. The 15-minute Back Care Basics described in this blog are designed to gradually ease lower back tightness and can make a difference if you do them daily.

Stretching leg muscles to relieve low back pain

If you are suffering from a tight lower back, stretching your leg muscles may be one way to find relief. The leg muscles, in particular hamstrings and quadriceps, are connected to the pelvis. When one or both of them are tight, they will pull on the pelvis and alter the way the spine is balanced on top of the pelvis. This misalignment may cause muscle tightness and pain. This blog discusses the importance of stretching leg muscles to relieve low back pain. I will demonstrate the easiest positions to do this and also explain how to stretch efficiently. Depending on the position and the method, your stretching efforts will be effective or have no impact at all.

The new treatment guidelines for low back pain, and how yoga therapy fits in

The current medical treatments of low back pain do not offer the right care and are a waste of resources. You may have heard this in the news, shortly after The Lancet reported it in a comprehensive review of low back pain studies on 21 March 2018. This leading medical journal announced that low back pain has increased worldwide and that the medical approaches used in high-income countries, most notably surgery, medication, injections and imaging, are not effective. The studies suggest that exercise and education, as well as psychological therapies, are most appropriate for the majority of low back pain cases. From my experience, I know how yoga therapy can help manage and even heal back pain. This blog takes a closer look at the new treatment guidelines for low back pain, and at how yoga therapy can offer what is prescribed: exercise, education and a form of emotional support.