Claire Grieve is a highly sought-after international yoga specialist, stretch therapist, plant-based health coach, and wellness writer. She underwent extensive yoga training with some of the world’s top yogis and has dedicated almost a decade to teaching and making yoga enjoyable and accessible to everyone. Below, she's sharing a few lengthening and stretching moves to help ease back pain sans pain-killers or a visit to the chiropractor.
Back pain is a common ailment and can be caused by so much more than an injury to your back. Sitting for long periods of time can cause your upper leg and hip muscles to tighten, which can pull on your back muscles. Neglecting to use your core throughout the day can put extra pressure on your lower back, which can force the lower back muscles to work double time. Even if you’re super active, overexertion can make you tired and more prone to back injury. Good news, however: the below yoga flow will help you ease your back pain by loosening your legs, hips, and back and releasing tension throughout your whole body.
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Child’s pose is the ultimate relaxation pose. Practicing this pose can help ease stress and tension throughout your entire body. Sit on your heels with your knees wide and your toes touching. Lower your belly between your thighs and rest your forehead onto the floor. Extend your arms with your palms facing down and lengthen from your hips through your fingertips. Breathe gently in this pose anywhere from one to five minutes.
Performing a series of gentle-flowing cat-cows will gently release the tension along your entire spine. Starting on all fours. Inhale, lift your chest to the sky and arch your back. Exhale, pull your belly button into your spine and look back toward your feet. Repeat for at least five deep breaths.
Downward-facing dog will open up the backs of your legs. If these muscles are tight, they can pull on your back muscles and cause strain and pain. This pose will lengthen the glutes, hamstrings, and calves and release tension from your back. Place your hands shoulder-distance and hip-width apart, activate your arms, and draw the sit bones up and back. Press your heels firmly towards the ground. Relax your head and neck and gaze back towards your feet.
Practicing standing-forward fold will release tension from your entire back. As you fold down, you may literally feel the tension melting away. Stand in mountain pose with both feet planted firmly on the ground, hands on your hips. Exhale and slowly fold forward from your hip joints, lengthening the front of your torso. Bend your elbows and hold onto each elbow with opposite hand. Lightly sway from side to side, if it feels good. Hold for at least one minute.
Upward-facing dog helps to stretch the lower back while allowing you to open up your upper spine and heart chakra. Practicing this pose can help lengthen your entire spine. Start lying flat on the floor with your hands by your chest. Push up until your elbows are almost straight and your hips are lifted off the ground. Take a deep inhale while extending your heart to the sky.
Reclined Hamstring Stretch
Tight hamstrings can be a huge contributor to back pain. This stretch can help to loosen built-up upper leg tension. This pose will also help to relieve lower back pain, sciatica, digestive problems and menstrual discomfort. Start laying on flat on your back. Lift one leg to the sky. Flex the foot of the leg extended on the floor, press your thigh down and make sure not to let your hips lift. Press up through the heel, grab onto your big toe on the elevated leg and draw your leg back. If you can’t reach your toes, a strap is a wonderful tool.
Pigeon pose provides a deep stretch for your glutes and psoas muscles, which can help relieve back pain and sciatica. Breathe into the areas that feel tight—each exhale will melt away tension.
Starting in downward-facing dog, bring your right knee forward and place it in line with your right hand. Your shin should be parallel with the front of your mat. Extend your left leg back and rest your knee and top on foot on the ground. Square your hips and fold forward resting your forehead on your hands.
Hold for two to five minutes on each side.
This gentle twist will help to lengthen and strengthen the muscles along your spine removing energy blockages, leaving you feeling revitalized. Sit with your legs extended, bend your right knee and place it close to your right sitting bone. Elongate your spine, place your right arm to the floor behind you and hook the left arm over your right knee. Keep your straight leg pressing firmly into the ground with the foot flexed. On every inhale, lengthen your spine and on every exhale, twist deeper into the pose.
Repeat as needed on both sides.
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