Back pain can be an issue for runners, everyday athletes or something that just comes with age. Luckily there are a few yoga poses that can help alleviate some of that pressure.
Move Ya Brass' fitness instructor Shanda Domango shared her favorite yoga poses for back pain, noting, "They help you stretch out other parts of your body too. Even though they're predominantly working the lower back, you're also getting a benefit of working other areas of your body that might be tight. Other areas that might be compromised when you're running, as far as dealing with impact. Especially the hips."
The next time you're feeling soreness in your lower back, try these Shanda recommended stretches:
Get on your hands and knees in a tabletop position with your shoulders stacked over your wrists. Take a deep inhale and round your back as you draw your belly button to your spine. Then, as you exhale, press your belly button towards the floor, slightly arching your back. Repeat this sequence a few times matching your breath to your movement.
Shanda likes Cat-Cow because "it helps pretty much release any pressure that might be sitting on your lower back."
The Spinal Twist
Lie down on your back. Bring your knees to your chest and let both of your legs fall to one side, one stacked on top of the other. Stretch both arms out in a T position with both shoulders touching the ground. Turn your head in the opposite direction of your knees. Repeat on opposite side.
Shanda recommends this pose because it "helps alleviate any pressure, as well as stretch out any knots that you may be feeling in your lower back."
Lie on your back and bring your legs up in the air. Bend your knees and grab your big toe or the bottoms of your feet. Bring your knees down towards the ground, or as far as they can go, and just hang there.
"You can give yourself a little bit of a rock back and forth, if that's something that you want to do," Shanda suggested. "But that stretch within itself creates a really good lower back stretch and it also gives a good stretch in your hip flexors, especially like with running and how that can be really tight."
"Even though it does help with lower back pain, [Pigeon is] another stretch that is good for hips, as well as good for your quads," Shanda said.
It's often helpful to start in Plank or Downward Dog position and then flow your right knee to the ground close to your right wrist. Your right foot should be near your left hip or towards your left hand, whatever is comfortable for you. Keep your left leg on the floor stretched out behind you. Lift your chest up with both hands touching the ground, stretch forward onto your forearms, or walk your hands out in front of you. Repeat on opposite side.
It doesn't matter how far you bring your upper body down, because as Shanda said, it's all about your own flexibility. "It's not one of those things where you have to feel like, 'Oh, I'm not that flexible,'" she assured. "It's a stretch you can progress into."
"One of my go-tos, and I think everybody can appreciate this, is Child's Pose," Shanda said.
To get into the pose, sit on your heels with your toes touching and knees facing out. Lean your chest forward towards the floor and reach your arms out in front of you, as you stretch your hips back to the wall.
"Even though you feel it a lot in the upper back," Shanda explained, "there's a deeper stretch happening there if you pay attention and focus on what you're stretching."
If you've ever been in a yoga class and had an instructor press down on your hips while you're in Child's Pose, you know how good that extra pressure feels. Therefore, Shanda agreed that, "There's something about having a partner stretch you that I feel is way more effective and way more powerful."
- Lori Wilson