Emergency yoga: what to do when your back hurts after strenuous exercise

You have been moving around for most of the day, maybe decorating the house, gardening, lifting boxes, playing sports … and by the afternoon your back aches. It worries you because you don’t know how to shift this dull and heavy pain.

When your back hurts after sitting still all day long, stretching and gentle movements can do wonders. After a whole day at your desk, for example, a yoga class can make you feel reborn.

However, when you have put your muscles through a lot of awkward repetitive movements, going through a series of yoga moves may be the very last of your desires! In the case of muscle strain or stiffness, it is better to adopt the “first aid for back pain pose.” It may be tempting to just get on with the daily tasks and ignore your back, but if you don’t want to make your back pain worse, just give yourself a 10 minute break and rest in this blissful restorative pose.


The restorative position with legs on a raise is simple but very effective as it relaxes the back muscles merely by lying in an aligned and restful way. If you can keep bringing your attention back to your breath, instead of letting the mind wander, it will also help you feel calmer and more centered.

Find a chair or sofa that is roughly the same height as your lower legs. Have a cushion for your head if your neck muscles are tight, and a blanket. A yoga mat or the carpet is a good surface to lie on. A bed would be too soft and hardwood floor too hard.


Place yourself on the mat, sideways and very close to the chair. Turn to lie on your back with the lower legs on the chair so that the knees and hips are bent at 90 degrees. Determine if you need a cushion for your head: if the chin is sticking up and cannot relax towards the throat then it is better to use the cushion. Cover yourself with the blanket and stay about 10 minutes.

To come up it is very important to first turn and lie on your side and then push yourself up with one hand, using the strength of your arms rather than the back muscles, which are now relaxed.


This blog today is part of a series of 4 “emergency yoga” tips. Part 2 will give you some techniques for when you feel upset or angry. Yoga techniques that help with anger management – while being beneficial for the back?? Find out more in 2 weeks….


This Post Has One Comment

  1. Anne S

    Great tip. Thanks Bene!

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