About 50% of working Americans live with constant back pain. People who have desk jobs sit in chairs all day, and then go home and sit on the couch some more. All the sitting causes the hamstring muscles in the inner thigh and the illiopsoas muscles that line the lower spine and pelvic area to shorten, making the lower back feel tight and achy.
Even people who have great fitness regimens often experience lower back pain. If physical activity is performed without properly warming the muscles, the the impact of the exercise will strain and injure the delicate lower back.
If you have suffered a back injury, it is imperative to be treated in general orthopedics, or even by an orthopedic surgeon to prevent further damage. However, if you’re experiencing nagging lower back aches as a result of too much sitting or over-exercise, many therapists of occupational medicine suggest strengthening the muscles in the lower back with these three low-impact yoga stretches:
- Supine Hamstring Stretch
Lie flat on your back, relaxing your muscles as much as possible. Extend your right leg upwards, in a 45 degree angle from your body. Wrap a scarf around the arch of your extended foot and push it towards the sky. Pull the scarf towards your body so your leg is pushing against it. Hold this pose for several breaths; allowing the hamstring muscles to activate and stretch. Relax, and then do the same with the left leg. If this pose is painful, try bending the leg that is not being stretched so that that foot is flat on the ground.
- Two-knee Twists
While you are still flat on your back, extend arms outward and rest them perpendicular to your body. Inhale deeply as you press your knees against your chest. When you exhale, twist your bent knees the to right side of your body and turn your head to the left, extending your spine in both directions. Hold for two breaths, and then return your knees to your chest while inhaling. Now do the same in the opposite direction.
- strong>Sphinx Pose
Gently roll to your stomach and align your elbows to parallel to your body, so that your shoulders are resting on the tops of your hands. Push yourself up on your arms, elevating the top half of your body towards the sky, while the lower half of your body remains flat against the floor. Direct your face upwards, elongating your spine and feeling the warmth of muscles across your back stretching. Hold for three breaths and then come to the floor and rest for three breaths before repeating.
When to Consult an Orthopedist
Sometimes the extent of the damage to your lower back is too great to be improved naturally with yoga stretches, and your best course of action is to be treated by an orthopedic surgeon. If your condition does not improve after several weeks non-surgical care, or much sooner if the pain is excruciating, an orthopedic surgeon is your best bet. You may also want to consider orthopedic surgery if your lower back pain prevents you from performing basic tasks, or even from performing light yoga stretches mentioned here at all.