Low back pain is a significant public health problem that has reached epidemic proportions. It places a substantial burden on the workforce and the health care system. It has proven very difficult to treat, and it is one of the most commonly reported reasons for the use of complementary and alternative medicine.
The common causes of this condition are either stiffness in the ligaments or muscles of the lower back, or weak abdominal muscles. Poor posture and lack of exercise usually lead to tight and swollen back muscles, resulting in pain in this area.
What Causes Lower Back Pain conditions like Herniated Disc and Degenerative Disc
Why only lower Back? Generally speaking, the lower back is subject to a lot of mechanical or physical stress and strain. The reason is the weight of the upper body, which always puts loads on the lower back. Supporting all that upper body weight is the spine, which is made up of more than 30 small bones called vertebrae stacked one on top of the other. A spongy piece of cartilage, called a disc, sits between each vertebra. It acts as a shock absorber, preventing the bony vertebrae from grinding against one another. With age, these cushioning discs gradually wear away and shrink, a condition known as degenerative disc disease. Discs can also tear or become injured. Sometimes the weakening of a disc can put pressure on its jelly-like center.
A herniated disc in the lower back can put pressure on the nerve that extends down the spinal column. This commonly causes pain to radiate to the buttocks and all the way down the leg. This condition is called sciatica.
The Goal of Yoga Therapy for Lower Back Pain
The Paramount goal of Therapeutic Yoga for low back pain is the relief of pain and functional limitation caused by a chronic lower back condition. This is achieved by minimizing, healing, and ultimately correcting underlying physical malfunctions through a series of anatomically correct postures. Unlike most conventional medical treatments that focus on treating LBP symptoms through medications and surgical procedures, Yoga therapy works to correct underlying internal malfunctions that contribute to mechanical causes of non-specific LBP. It is through the process of helping people with LBP to rest the area of pain and then educating them in proper alignment of bones, muscles, and connective tissue and movements that the healing occurs and changes the underlying root cause of the discomfort
Recommended Yoga Series for Lower Back Conditions
- All Standing Poses
- Jatara Parivartanasana
- Supta Padanugastasna
- Urdhva Mukha Janu Sirshasana ( Mild Variation)
- Urdhva Mukha Paschimottasana ( Mild Variation)
- Urdhva Mukha Svanasana
- Adho mukha svanasana
- Marichyasana 3
- Ardha Matsyendra Asana
- Sarvangasana ( Supported)
- Setubandha Asana
Active relaxation with guided Imagery and visualization
Final Passive Relaxation ( Shavasana)
Pranayama (It must be practiced after 30 min of Yoga Asana Practice or 15 min before Yoga Session)
Deep Yogic Breath (5)
Nadi Shodhan (No retention)( 10 min)
Ujaayi Breath (10)
Remember all or few difficult asanas can be done with the supported props on front of the competent Yoga Therapist or teacher. Asanas need to be suggested to the patient in phases divided in weeks increasing or reducing with progressive weeks based on developed flexibility, and core strength of the lower back muscles and ligaments.
Prevention is better than Cure.
Preventive measures include –
1) Awareness and correction of postures while standing, sitting and lying down,
2) Regular exercises and
3) Stress management
Yoga techniques involving slow body movements followed by practices of deep relaxation are useful in maintaining the strength and flexibility of the spine. In persons who have had a minor acute episode of back pain, regular practice of a basic set of yoga practices of 45 to 50 minutes including Suryanamaskar, loosening practices, 8 – 10 asanas followed by deep relaxation, pranayama and meditation as recommended in our programme for promotion of positive health can be practiced safely.
During acute episodes
Rest in bed is necessary which could vary from a few days up to about 4-6 weeks until the severity of pain comes down. Pain killers, muscle relaxants, cold or hot fomentation during this period of total bed rest and immobilization will help you to get relief from the acute pain. Refrain from lifting heavy weights and sudden jerks and movements.
Ayurveda Massage Therapy
Massage therapy works exceedingly well for chronic back conditions where warm herbal Ayurveda oils loosens the stiff LBP muscles and ligaments. Therapeutic herbs in the oil with gentle massage strokes releases the negative stress accumulated in the inter vertebral discs in the lumbar spinal region. Specialized therapies like kati vasty for Lower Back are also advised by Ayurveda Physicians along with oral medications to relive the pain quickly.
Effective Stress Management
It has been shown and validated by the various studies that LBP conditions are triggered or aggravated by the stressful lifestyle. Mild to severe depression and emotional suppression can make your situation worse. I have personally observed this pattern where 80 to 90 % of LBP patents had ongoing stress symptoms. Effective Stress Management through change in lifestyle, Yoga, Meditation, relaxation exercises, counseling through support group is extremely essential for any Alternative Therapy to provide absolute relief and cure. As Yoga says, “Cure is in your mind and within your own peaceful existence”
“Let this wonderful Drug less therapy to cure and heal you from within slowly and gradually