Thursday, February 27, 2014

3 YOGA POSES FOR LOWER BACK PAIN

5002_790677310947788_1751300631_nYoga is one of the best exercise programs for alleviating lower back pain. The positions you assume during yoga, called poses, are designed to foster both strength and flexibility, two imperative components of a healthy body. Lower back pain often results from muscle tension and weak core muscles. The following 3 yoga poses will promote spinal flexibility and tone muscles in the stomach, back, pelvis and buttocks. Cat/Cow The cat and cow are actually two separate yoga poses, but they are generally performed in succession. These poses restore range of motion to the spinal joints and engage the muscles in the stomach and lower back. Begin in a "table top" position on all fours. Adjust yourself so that your knees are aligned with your hips and your hands, with your shoulders. Your spine should be neutral with your eyes pointed downward. From the beginning of the exercise to the end, keep your deep stomach muscles engaged. When you're positioned properly, begin to arch your spine upward, tucking your pelvis under and allowing your head to drop, but not dropping your chin to your chest. Make sure your knees are still aligned with your hips and your hands with your shoulders. This is the cat pose. Return to your start position on the inhale. Now, you'll do the opposite. Raise your buttocks and your chest as your spine arches inward. Your head should be facing forward. Return to your starting position as you inhale. Repeat this sequence 10 to 20 times, depending on your current level of strength and flexibility. Downward-Facing Dog Downward-facing dog is a great way to elongate the spine and stretch the muscles in the back of the legs, which are often tight from sitting. It also stretches the upper back, shoulders and arms. You can begin this pose on all fours in the table top position, but with your hands slightly ahead of the shoulders with your fingers spread out. Get onto the balls of your feet; begin bringing your knees away from the floor. Lightly press your tailbone toward the front of your pelvis as you lift the sit bones - the bones in your buttocks - upward toward the ceiling (these steps sound strange, but try it - you will feel the difference between following them and simply raising your buttocks). Exhale as you lower your heels to the floor and straighten your knees. Essentially, you want to form an in inverted "V" from your wrists to your heels. In this position, push your palms and heels into the floor, and try to further elongate your torso and legs while keeping the sit bones lifting toward the ceiling. Your head should be centered between your upper arms. Plank The plank is one of the best exercises for toning your entire core muscle group. You can start from the table top position again. Lower yourself onto your elbows and forearms. Walk you feet back all the way; your shoulders should be directly over your elbows. Roll your forearms so that the side that aligns with your pinky finger is against the floor. You should now have only your elbows, forearms and feet touching the floor. You want close to a straight line connecting your heels and head, but with the buttocks slightly raised. You can achieve the right position by pushing the front of your thighs upward while pushing your tailbone downward. Your neck should be aligned with your back. Hold the plank for 10 seconds if you are a beginner; lengthen duration to 30-60 seconds as your strength increases. The 3 poses above can give you a flexible spine and a strong core. They can easily be added into your daily routine to help relieve lower back pain.

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