Taxes, back pain, death; sometimes it can feel like back pain is just part and parcel of living. Whether we work strenuous, physical jobs or quite the opposite, spend hours sedentary behind a computer, back pain is something we kind of just deal as we age, right? Wrong, while aging is inevitable, sorry, back pain doesn't have to be. Experts agree that routine stretching can both prevent and relieve symptoms.
Tip: Seek medical advice, if you suffer chronic or acute pain. Always take it easy, don't rush, don't push yourself or over-stretch, and always breath deeply.
These exercises don't even require you to leave the floor.
1. Half Knees-to-Chest Pose - Ardha Apanasana
Lying on your back. On an exhalation, draw your right knee toward your chest and hold your right shin with both hands. Don't press your lower back into the floor; simply, maintain a natural lumbar curve. Slowly inhale to release the leg back to the floor, draw in the left knee as you exhale; inhale to release. Repeat, alternating right and left, 4 more times.
2. Reclining Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose A - Supta Padangusthasana A
Staying on your back. Lift your right leg off the floor, place a strap around the arch of your foot. Exhale to straighten your right leg up towards the sky, stack your ankle over your hip. You don't have to have a perfectly straight leg, but you should feel a nice, gentle stretch in your hamstring. If straight up is out of reach, bring your leg up as high as possible and slackening the strap as needed. Press through both heels, flexing your feet. Exhale to release and switch sides. Repeat on both legs 5 times.
3. Reclining Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose B - Supta Padangusthasana B
Set up as you did before, neutral spine, rise right leg to the sky, with the strap around the arch of your foot. Take both the strap ends in your right hand, extending your left arm along the floor. Exhale to lower your leg to the right. Try to keep your left hip on the floor and your left kneecap pointing up, don't worry about touching the ground. You should feel a stretch in your inner right thigh, but no lower-back strain. Inhale to lift your right leg back up; exhale to release it to the floor. Switch sides. Repeat until you've stretched both legs 5 times.
4. Reclining Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose C - Supta Padangusthasana C
Again, lying on your back, start by lifting your right leg to verticle. This time, bring both ends into your left hand. Exhale to draw your leg left across your body; inhale to bring your leg back to vertical. Avoid lifting your right hip off the ground, and don't worry about trying to get your foot to the ground, just focus on getting a gentle stretch across the back of your hips and lower back. Release the strap and switch legs, repeat until you've stretched each leg 5 times.
5. Eye-of-the-Needle Pose - Sucirandhrasana
Lying on your back, gently bring your knees to your chest. Start by placing your right ankle on your left thigh, just above the knee, hold your left thigh. Be mindful of the natural curve in your lower back and keep your shoulders relaxed. If you want to increase the stretch, bring your left thigh closer towards your chest, and press your right knee away from your torso. Hold the pose for 5-8 deep breaths, exhale to release, then switch sides.
These five very simple poses help to relax and stretch our lower back muscles. They also open up space between our vertebrae, which over time become condensed. The soft discs between our vertebrae sort of dry-out over time; less-supple discs can be more susceptible to bulging or rupture and put pressure on nerves, sending red-hot pain signals to our brain. Drinking lots of water, eating well, and stretching regularly can help keep our back in good health as we age.
For more yoga poses for back pain, ask your teacher.