Monthly Archives: September 2016

9 Yoga Poses to Relieve Back Pain

Did you know that September is National Yoga Month? Yoga can be extremely beneficial for those experiencing back pain, including occasional soreness and chronic pain. However, people with severe back pain should not attempt to use yoga for symptom relief. And remember, it is always a good idea to consult your physician before beginning a new fitness regimen.

What makes yoga so much better for back pain than other fitness routines? Yoga is one of the only workouts that emphasizes stretching, strength, and flexibility. In fact, recent studies have found that practicing yoga relieves symptoms caused by back pain better than stretching alone. The same study found that those who practice yoga regularly are twice as likely to cut back on pain medications than those who attempt to manage symptoms on their own.

So which poses should you incorporate into your routine for the most effective pain relief? We’ve compiled a list of nine poses below, along with instructions on how to perform them, to help manage your back pain symptoms. All of the poses should be held for 3-5 breaths.

Downward Facing Dog

(Damon Dahlen/Huffington Post)

Downward facing dog is the most well-known yoga pose out there because elongates the cervical spine and strengthens the core, hamstrings and lower back – all in one move! Begin on your hands and knees, tuck your toes, lift your hips and bring your heels toward the ground, making sure to keep your spine straight.


Upward Facing Dog

(Damon Dahlen/Huffington Post)

Upward facing dog helps to open your chest, and improve abdominal and back stretch. From the downward facing dog position, shift forward into a plank pose. Untuck your toes and lift your head up, making sure to keep your knees off the ground.


Low Lunge with Backbend

(Damon Dahlen/Huffington Post)

Low lunge with backbend strengthens and stretches your entire back. While in a low lunge position, gently lower your back knee to the ground. Bring your arms up alongside your head and lean back.


Seated Forward Fold

(Damon Dahlen/Huffington Post)

Seated forward fold is primarily known as a hamstring stretch, but it’s also great for lengthening your back. Start in an upright seated position with your legs in front of you. Guide your hands down your legs until you’ve stretched as far as you can.


Seated Spinal Twist

(Damon Dahlen/Huffington Post)

Seated spinal twist is great for improving posture and spine mobility. While in a seated position, bring your left foot to the outside of your right knee. Hook your right elbow outside your left knee and look back over your left shoulder. Repeat on the opposite side.


Standing Forward Fold with Clasped Hands

(Damon Dahlen/Huffington Post)

Standing forward fold with clasped hands is great for stretching your back, increasing shoulder mobility, and opening up your chest. While standing, bend forward at your hips and stretch your fingertips toward the ground. Clasp your hands behind you and bring your palms together, even if you have to bend your elbows.


Lower Back Clasp

(Damon Dahlen/Huffington Post)

Lower back clasp both stretches and strengthens your lower back. While lying on your stomach, clasp your hands behind you and lift your chest off the ground. Again, if you have to bend your elbows to bring your palms together, do so.


Sphinx Pose

(Damon Dahlen/Huffington Post)

Sphinx pose lengthens the spine and opens up the chest. Start on your hands and knees, and lower your stomach to the ground while bringing your forearms in front of you and lifting your chest.


Bow Pose

(Damon Dahlen/Huffington Post)

Bow pose stretches and strengthens the upper back and shoulders to help improve posture. While lying on your stomach, reach for your heels and lift them up, causing your back to arch naturally.

Positive Thinking = Positive Health

In recent years, the medical field has realized the significance that the mind can have on the body. The relationship between feeling good and thinking good is very strong. There are some incredible health benefits to be gained from doing this one simple thing: thinking positively. In fact, positive thoughts can reduce chronic and acute back pain. If you’re not convinced that having a rosier outlook on things can improve your overall health, then you’re already doing it wrong! Let us help get you on the right track to a better state of mind!

Keeping your mind in good shape can also keep your body in good shape. One of the significant benefits of positive thinking is that it can actually increase your lifespan due to a healthier cardiovascular system. Patients in a hospital who had a brighter view of the world were more likely to live 5 years longer than those who were more negative.  Researchers found that out of 100,000 women, the optimistic women were 30% less likely to die from heart disease. Those who were prone to negative thoughts were 23% more likely to be diagnosed with cancer.  Having a positive outlook on your day can give you a healthier and longer life.

For those of you suffering from back pain, you might find it very difficult to find positives throughout your day. However, a recent study completed through the VA found that participants who were asked to perform simple daily tasks that guided them to positive thinking led to a reduction in pain. For example, some participants were tasked with simple things such as thinking of 3 good things that happened that day.  Keeping a journal of your accomplishments – even if you feel they are small, can help relieve your mind of negative self-talk. Focusing on the positive things can help ease your pain.  There is strong evidence that the pain cycle is related to negative thinking. So, beating the negative thoughts can help break the pain cycle and give you relief!

Having a positive outlook on things can actually help improve your immune system, too! Those who tend to be optimistic also tend to stave off colds, flus and other illnesses better than those who are pessimistic! With flu season right around the corner, you might want to start looking on the bring side of things to help you avoid falling victim.

If you feel like your pain and suffering has led you down a negative road, it might be difficult to think about keeping a positive outlook on things. But, once you get started, it becomes easier and easier to see the bright side!  There are many ways you can incorporate optimism into your life – things such as: 1) Replace negative words like “can’t” with positive ones 2) Imagine yourself accomplishing things that evoke happiness and strength 3) Keep positive people close 4) Remind yourself at the end of the day of all of the good things that happened. Thinking positively requires very little work or effort. A simple change in your thought process can have long and lasting benefits on your mental and physical health.

Is your pain worth a trip to the doctor?

It can be a panic-inducing scenario: pain in your back, causing you to feel incapacitated – maybe even helpless. The sudden pain came out of nowhere and you’re worried it could be something very serious. Your first reaction might be to panic. Some might jump to conclusions and fear the worst about the pain. However, most pain is benign – except for the fact that it puts you in extreme discomfort and disrupts your routine. There isn’t always need to stress about the pain, and, as we know, stress actually can make the pain worse instead of better. When should you visit your doctor for pain?

Sudden or acute back pain can be scary and uncomfortable, but often times, does not signal a major medical issue. This type of pain is often categorized as “acute”. Acute back pain starts quickly and lasts less than 6 weeks. It is often the result of improperly lifting heavy objects, having muscles that are too tight or a minor sports strain.  This type of back pain often goes away on its own and is easily treated with pain medication or cold/hot packs. If you do become afflicted with acute back pain, you may want to rest for just a few days. Don’t overexert yourself, at first. But, properly stretching and staying active can help the pain resolve after just a few days. The severity of the pain is not necessarily an indication of the severity of the condition. Therefore, you likely will not need to see a doctor if you have acute pain.

Acute pain, while severe, may not require a visit to your doctor. But, you should consider making an appointment if the pain is a direct result of a traumatic accident such as falling, trauma from a sports accident or auto accident. This could indicate a more severe injury that should be medically treated and monitored. What other signs and symptoms should lead you to seek medical treatment?

  1. If the pain is constant and continues to worsen rather than improve
  2. If the pain is accompanied by numbness or tingling in the extremities
  3. If you have a fever, which could signal an internal infection
  4. If the pain worsens at night
  5. If you begin to lose weight without trying
  6. If you see blood in your urine and the pain is one-sided
  7. If you notice redness and swelling near the pain
  8. If you also have abdominal pain

You’ll want to call your doctor or even visit the emergency room if any of the above items accompany your back pain.

A visit to the doctor can be a traumatic and stressful event in itself. While back pain might seem scary, that’s not always the case. There are certainly times you should visit your physician when you are suffering from back pain, including the list above.  But, not every instance of pain requires medical attention. While you might find this helpful, it is best to listen to your body. If you feel like something is not quite right, you can get peace of mind by visiting your doctor. They will be able to help identify any additional maladies and create a treatment path to get you back to being pain-free!