Yoga for Lower Back Arthritis Relief
Various forms of arthritis can cause pain in the lower back. Exercise is often an important component in an overall treatment plan. Yoga offers a form of gentle exercise along with techniques to manage stress and anxiety that can aggravate back pain. Yoga exercises can help reduce back pain and stiffness and improve flexibility. If you experience lower back pain, consult your health care provider before beginning a yoga program.
Cat and Cow Pose
When your lower back hurts, you may not want to move it, but gentle movement can actually make your back feel better. This can be accomplished with the cat and cow pose. Start the pose on your hands and knees. Inhale and arch your back like a cat. Then exhale and lower to the original position or slightly arched. Go back and forth slowly for eight to 12 repetitions. The goal is to move the lower back slowly and within a pain-free level to improve range of motion.
Prone Leg and Arm Lifts
Keeping your back muscles strong lessens pressure on your spine and may reduce back pain. Some prone exercises performed in yoga can target this area.
Start by lying on your stomach with your arms stretched overhead, palms facing down. Tighten the abdominal and buttocks muscles. Lift just your right arm and elbow off the ground. Keep your elbow near your ear with your arm straight. Hold for a few deep breaths, and then lower slowly down. Repeat with the left leg and knee, keeping the knee straight. Lower down slowly. Do the same with the left arm and right leg. If your lower back is sensitive, try placing a pillow under your hips to prevent the lower back from arching.
The spinal twist stretch is a gentle posture that helps the lower back relax. Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat. Bring your arms out to the side with the palms facing up. Lower both knees to one side and hold for several deep breaths. With each exhale, focus on relaxing the lower back. Repeat on the other side.
To deepen this stretch, cross the right knee over the left knee and lower the legs to the left. Come out slowly, and repeat with the left knee on top.
If your hips are tight, they can pull on the back and cause pain. To stretch the hips, lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat. Place the right ankle bone on the left knee, and gently press the right knee open.
For a deeper stretch, lift your left foot off the floor and either hold on behind the left knee or wrap a towel under the left knee and hold the ends. Take several slow deep breaths and focus on relaxing the lower back and hips. Repeat on the other side.
- Johns Hopkins Arthritis Center: Yoga for People with Arthritis
- Arthritis Today: Getting Back at Back Pain
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I hold a Master's degree in exercise physiology/health promotion. I am a certified fitness specialist through the American College of Spots Medicine and an IYT certified yoga teacher. I have over 25 years experience teaching classes to both general public and those with chronic illness. The above allows me to write directly to the reader based on personal experiences.