Friday, July 17, 2009

Can Yoga Cure An Aching Back?


I recently finished six weeks of physical therapy after my back surgery. The therapist sat me down for a "discharged interview". We discussed a variety of things that would help me continue my recovery. One of the questions I asked him was "Can yoga cure my back pain?

His short answer was "yes" followed by a "but". This question lead to a lively discussion of yoga that I believe would be helpful to other back sufferers.

Yoga has been practiced for thousands of years. Yoga is well known for increasing flexibility, strength, breathing, circulation, etc. there are several different types of yoga and each type has many exercises or positions. Some positions are easy and gentle to perform and others difficult. So which are the best yoga exercises for a bad back? Here are some steps you can take to determine if yoga is right for your aching back.

1. First talk to your doctor. Get his okay. He/she may even recommend a yoga instructor.
2. Contact a couple of yoga instructors. Tell them your specific condition. Most will allow you to attend a class before signing up and paying a fee.
3. Hatha Yoga is known for it's gentle movements and is usually the best type of yoga for a person with a back condition.
4. Start with learning correct breathing techniques. This will help you relax. Relaxation is a key to managing your pain and lowering stress.
5. Be ready to stop if any movement becomes painful. Forget the old saying "No pain no gain"
6. Modify the movements to suit you. A good instructor will be happy to help you modify a movement. Finally remember you are a "work in progress" be patient and gentle with yourself.

Yoga can be a way to relieve back painback pain and prevent it from ruining your life. But it's critical to find a capable instructor who understands and has training in helping people with a sore back. I have practiced yoga for many years both before and since my back injury although yoga can be very beneficial I believe there are other alternatives that could better serve you.

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