It took millions of years for humans to evolve and develop the kind of muscles in our backs that allow us to stand and walk upright. But for the century that passed, more and more people are turning into sedentary creatures, spending most of their day working behind a desk, slouching in front of the TV, and travelling many miles seated in cars. All these take its toll on our neck and upper and lower back muscles.
When we don’t use our neck, upper and lower back muscles as much as they are meant to be used these muscles weaken and shorten. This shortening of the back muscles causes the muscles to tighten, allowing less blood to circulate. In time, this tightening manifests itself in pain and discomfort around the neck and upper back area. The usual causes of neck, upper and lower back pains are muscle strain from overuse, poor posture, and lack of or too much exercise.
For athletic people, neck and upper and lower back pain arise from overuse and too much exercise may be a common discomfort they live through. But if left unchecked, this may lead to more serious injuries.
In most cases, however, pain in the neck and upper and lower back results from awkward postures and poor work or study habits. If you position your head just a few centimeters the wrong way and sustain it, this may cause unbalanced stress on your muscles, which always work in pairs. Needless to say, pain and soreness arise from stressing the muscles unduly.
So much unease can be avoided and so much time and resources can be maximized if you can assume a better posture, adopt a better working habit, and be more aware of the natural balances of your body.
Yoga exercises for lower back pain, upper back, shoulder or neck pain have recently drawn researchers’ attention as a natural treatment for back pain. Back pain often arises from chronic tension and imbalances in the soft tissues, and as a consequence, surgery and prescription drugs are relatively ineffective at resolving back problems. Yoga offers promise as an alternative treatment for lower back, neck and upper back pain, precisely because it’s so effective at relieving tension and stiffness in the soft tissues, thereby targeting many back pain problems at their root.
In a 2005 study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, Yoga exercises for lower back, neck and upper back pain were found to provide more effective pain relief than a combination of exercise and proper back care. Lower back, neck and upper back Yoga has also been recommended by the American College of Physicians and the American Pain Society as a measure for treating persistent back pain.
Yoga helps people suffering from back pain in four major ways:
1. Yoga tones and strengthens the core muscles. Yoga exercises strengthen the body’s core posture support muscles in a holistic and complete way. Stronger core muscles provide better support for the spine, improving the strength and stability of the back. In addition to increasing core stability, Yoga helps improve posture, again decreasing unbalanced or excessive loads on the spine to provide lower back, neck and upper back pain relief.
2. Yoga enhances flexibility. Back problems often arise when chronically tight muscles and soft tissue pull on the spine at unnatural angles. Yoga stretches increase the suppleness and flexibility of the soft tissues, and this in turn releases the strain caused by chronically tight muscles pulling the spine out of its natural alignment. By stretching out and releasing tension naturally, Yoga relieves the pressure on the spine, in turn reducing lower back, neck and upper back pain
3. Yoga increases circulation. Yoga also improves back pain by enhancing oxygenation to body tissues, thereby increasing the flow of nutrients and removal of toxins in the spine itself. Many Yoga poses for back pain alternate compression and release of pressure, coupled with an emphasis on deep breathing to systematically flood the body with uniquely oxygen-rich blood. This fresh influx of blood clears out toxins in the body and delivers vital nutrients to all areas, including the soft tissues. This is particularly helpful to people who sit at computers all day, which can lead to a compressed spine and restricted blood flow. Yoga stretches for the back lengthen and decompress the spine, thereby improving circulation to the vertebrae and vertebral discs.
4. Yoga reduces stress. Finally, Yoga may help combat lower back, neck and upper back pain by inducing greater relaxation. With all the stresses of everyday life, our nervous system often becomes constantly engaged in “fight or flight” mode. In this mode, our muscles-and especially those around the spine-tighten up. This constriction frequently leads to neck tension, tension headaches, and recurring back pain. Yoga therapy helps settle the mind and create greater relaxation in the body, shifting us from “fight or flight” into the rejuvenating “rest and digest” state. In this relaxed state, the body no longer fights to maintain readiness for battle, but begins to heal itself.
Of course, like any holistic mind-body approach to health, Yoga offers many therapeutic effects, and these are just a few. When the spine is healthy, vital energy flows unimpeded, and we enjoy optimum well-being. For this reason, a person practicing yoga for lower back, neck and upper back pain will also benefit from yoga’s effects on organ health, mood, emotional balance and general energy and well-being.
If you’re looking for an alternative solution for all back pain relief then this is for you.