A herniated disc in the lumbar spine and the often-accompanying sciatica can take a very long time to heal: even when the pain has gone, the healing process can last a year or longer.
This is obvious when, for example, some movements still give you a niggling pain 5 months after the intervertebral disc herniated. A long car journey can make your back seize up again and shoot the pain down your leg. With these recurrences you may feel confused about which movements are safe; you have become very careful and feel that your body is tighter than it used to be.
Well, there is hope! The movements that you should avoid are not random. Especially in the first 3 to 4 months it is important to avoid forward bends and forwards bends combined with a twist.
In daily life, this means being extra careful with activities such as tying shoelaces, emptying the dishwasher, gardening and lifting. If you have to do any lifting, bend your legs and as you come up with the extra weight in arms or hands, keep your back straight. Slouching or sitting for long periods are very unhelpful (hence the danger of long car journeys) and one-sided sports such as tennis, golf, or impact sports like running or basketball are also not advisable just now.
In my yoga sessions with students recovering from a herniated disc, I avoid all yoga poses that involve any kind of forward bending at first. This even includes child’s pose. However, yoga has so many poses that can help you exactly at this stage: those that release back and leg muscles, those that place the spine in a gentle back bend and of course those that safely strengthen the abdominals. If you would like to learn more, please have a look at the back pain package.
What I would love to share with you today is a rest position that aligns and relaxes the back muscles. This is likely to feel restorative because the back relaxes in a supine position with the help of gravity and the legs are placed at such an angle that they do not pull on the pelvis or the back. It is also soothing when you suffer from other causes of lower back pain.
Nevertheless, as always with yoga: should this pose not feel comfortable or cause pain, please don’t do it. Yoga teaches us primarily to listen to our body!
Take a chair and soften the seat if necessary with a blanket or cushion. Carefully lie on the floor on one side so that you can turn on your back and place the lower legs on the chair. The aim is to have your legs in 90-degree angles at the hips and the knees. You may like a cushion under your head if your neck feels tight and your chin is sticking up. Your hands can be on your abdomen, or by your sides slightly away from the body with the palms facing up. Have a blanket to cover yourself and rest for 5 to 10 minutes. Observe the natural rhythm of your breath.
Don’t stay too long in this position; however soothing this rest technique feels, movement is also important when you have back pain. So, to come out, carefully roll to the side and push yourself up to sitting with your arm. It is crucial to use the strength of your arm instead of the back muscles to come up.
Tell me how you are getting on – leave a comment below