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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.

How to do abdominal crunches in a safe way for your back

In my experience teaching yoga to people with back pain, I have seen the benefits of strengthening the abdominal muscles for posture and back health. It is important to do these exercises in a careful and safe way. If you would like to learn how to strengthen your abdominals without straining back or neck muscles, this blog is for you. Maybe, like me, you have tried sit-ups to strengthen your abs, only to find that this hurts your lower back and neck. The classic sit-ups, where the chest lifts all the way towards your knees, cause too much pressure on the spinal discs. Abdominal crunches, on the other hand, prevent this stress for the spine by keeping the lower back on the floor. But even these crunches can be done in a way that is stressful and inefficient. Read on to find out how to do safe abdominal crunches for your back. We will look at two different abdominal muscles: the rectus abdominis and the oblique abdominis.

Yoga therapy for back pain

Serious back pain can be debilitating. It often stops you from participating in the activities you love, makes you wary of going on long car journeys, play with your children or grandchildren, go to a movie or play, … It can affect your sleep and much of your life. Back pain troubles young and old: whereas for instance a herniated disc tends to manifest among younger people, arthritis mostly creeps up later in life. Back pain can have a wide variety of causes, such as bad posture, an accident, lifting, repeated bending, wear and tear, inactivity.

 

While a conventional yoga class can help release muscle tightness, it can actually make serious back pain considerably worse. Yoga therapy for back pain, on the other hand, adapts the poses to suit the particular back condition. The first task of a yoga therapist is to avoid movements that exacerbate the pain. This is based on knowledge about the cause of back pain but also depends on the individual. The second task is to teach the beneficial poses, those that can soothe tight muscles and strengthen weaker areas. Finally, a yoga therapist will include yoga techniques that relax the mind.

Never been good at balancing?

Many people believe they are not good at balancing. Why should you be good at standing on one leg anyway when daily tasks don’t really require this for any length of time? Isn’t it just something people need to do in gym classes and quirky yoga lessons? Rather on the contrary, so many skills are developed or fine-tuned when we balance, that steadiness on one leg is actually very important to keep practising. The different skills that are required, such as strength, agility, awareness of the body in space, stability and concentration, tend to deteriorate with age, and if we never practise balancing on one leg, we may feel increasingly unstable on two! If you believe you can’t balance easily, take this opportunity to challenge yourself and improve, because you can and you may even come to love it…