A gentle yoga sequence to address lower back pain
I have been in pain with my lower back for a little bit of time now.
Some of the most common reasons people experience lower back pain are a result of everyday habitual behaviour.
Sitting too much, not moving enough, overarching or tucking pelvis under, or back pain may even be a result of an accident or injury.
I could say that I am the victim of such ailment also and although my understanding is limited I know, at least, the things that make it worse:
- Sitting down for prolonged periods of the
- Periods of uncertainty or stress
- Running or high impact activities.
- Poor posture, but not in the way you think. I tend to over extend my knees and that results in over stretching the hamstrings, in response I overtuck my pelvis under.
I designed a practice that focused a lot on this “overtucking action” of my pelvis.
I initially spent a long time during the last week resting and observing for things that made my lower back feel good in order to gain a better understanding of what was going on. plus I was in pain and “stretching” felt like a struggle.
1. Starting kneeling I initially wanted to to create a little bit of mobility in the lower back.
2. This slowly progressed into chakravakasana. It felt good to tuck pelvis under and gently push back, elongating the lower back- creating a little bit of traction in the spine.
3. As my discomfort is more prominent on one side of the body introducing a side bend felt good. It almost feels (and looks) like I’m leaning on one side. I repeated on the side which felt least comfortable.
4. Pushing back to downward dog did not feel good at first. What felt good was being on my toes though.
5. And that is exactly what I did.
The Role of our feet
Many of the imbalances we experience are because of the way we position our feet.
I know I over tuck the pelvis and turn my toes outwards. This is because I’m hypermobile at the knees, which over extends the hamstrings and therefore results in compensating by tucking pelvis under and turning toes out.
Stand with your feet hip-width apart .Turn your toes inwards. Try and tuck your pelvis under!
“It is nearly impossible to turn your toes inwards while standing and simultaneously tuck your pelvis under…”
6. As a result of the “over tuck” my hip flexors are tight also and kneeling lunges feel good. Practising this dynamically and working with the feet still plus stretch lower back in half splits.
7 & 8. Back to the toes, but this time aiming to work on re-aligning muscular structure through squatting. Heels remain lifted. This also helps to reactivate foot arch and increase awareness of weight distribution across the feet.
9. Back to downward dog. Still feeling the tension at my lower back. Practicing this dynamic move from downward dog to hindi squat felt good on my lower back.
10. It was also good for the transition to supine.
11. The aim of the supine practices were to massage the lower back through micromovement. The rocking felt good, comforting and also served a different purpose of feeling relaxed and ready for meditation.
12. Although my mind was ready and grounded my body had decided that it was not ready for meditation. The gentle backbend offered by simply laying down on the floor resulted in my body “holding on for dear life”.
In this cases it is beneficial to seek the support of props and practice restoratively instead. (A folded blanket is always a good prop to have a arms’ reach in any practice). What made it worse is the nature rotation of the feet outwards, so finally settled very briefly on relaxation with knees bent. feet flat on floor and toes turned in.
Repetition is now key. Potentially of the same movement or by introducing elements that release and comfort (eg. more assy metric poses) in different ways.
What I learned during this past week though is that pain is limiting and it is pretty fruitless to suggest to those in pain that stretching or asana will help. It was also something I learned during my recovery from transplant surgery too. Pain must be addressed first before stretching of strengthening a muscle, and it is limiting to one’s full recovery.