yoga for back pain

by Dr. Brian Wells, D.C.

September 15, 2020

Back pain is a common problem that plagues many weightlifters and bodybuilders. It’s not only difficult to deal with but can make it hard for you to do basic tasks.

How many times have you missed leg day because you back was so sore that you couldn’t do squats? Heck, in some cases your back hurts so bad that it’s hard to tie your own shoes!

Thankfully, there are plenty of methods you can use to treat it. Believe it or not, one of these best ways yoga.

In this post, you’re going to find out what causes back pain. And you’re also going to get a series of yoga poses that can help relieve that pain.

What Causes Back Pain?

Squats - too low

Back pain can be caused by a handful of different things. Some of the most common are: 

  • Lifting weights with bad form!
  • Poor posture
  • Herniated discs
  • Sciatica
  • Muscle strain
  • Degenerative disc disease

And as you know, it can be even more common among us weightlifters and bodybuilders. Exercises like heavy squats, deadlifts, and barbell rows can put a strain on our lower backs.

**This is NOT to say you shouldn’t perform those exercises. It’s not the exercise that causes back pain – it’s using poor form.

This can happen even with experienced lifters. All it takes is one slight wrong move.

It can also be from a preexisting injury that you may have not known about. For example, you may have a herniated disc, and doing something like squats aggravated it, causing pain.

Symptoms of Back Pain

This issue unfortunately comes with many uncomfortable symptoms:  

  • Leg numbness 
  • Difficulty standing or moving
  • Burning sensations in your back and legs

Often times we ignore that pain and push through it. Remember, missing leg day is a cardinal sin!

The folly of this mentality is if we’re not doing something about it, the underlying issue in our lower back is just going to get worse.

7 Yoga Poses for Back Pain

Now that you understand more about what can cause back pain (or why your back is currently hurting), let’s talk about one of the best methods to relieve that pain.

Yoga!

Initially, it may sound a little strange to mix weightlifting and yoga. But here’s the thing…

There are certain yoga exercises that will further deeply stretch your muscles, especially in your lower back and hamstrings. And these areas are where the core of your problems are.

So I’m going to show you seven yoga poses that weightlifters and bodybuilders can do to relieve back pain.

**At the end of this post, you’ll learn how doing yoga can actually help you build muscle and get stronger!

1 – Cat-Cow Pose

One yoga pose to try for back pain is the cat-cow pose. This pose works to loosen tight muscles throughout your neck and back while improving your posture. 

Here’s how to do the cat-cow pose:

  • To begin the cat-cow pose first get down on all fours on the floor. Make sure your wrists are aligned with your shoulders.
  • Take a deep breath and then curve your back so your stomach moves down toward the floor.
  • Hold this pose for a few seconds and then slowly exhale as you curve your back up.
  • As you do this, lower your head toward the ground.
  • Continue these motions about ten times.

2 – Bridge Pose

This pose works to release large amounts of endorphins and strengthens your back muscles. 

Here’s how to do the bridge pose:

  • First, lie with your back flat on the floor while keeping your arms palm-down.
  • Then, bend your knees, take a deep breath, and then lift your back off of the ground.
  • As you do this, take your hands and clasp them beneath you. This will help to keep your body balanced.
  • Try to lift your back as high as it will go, but don’t strain it.
  • Hold this position for a few seconds, then release. 

**Keep in mind that there is slight pressure applied to your neck when you do this pose. Because of this, you might want to consider rolling up a towel or putting a pillow behind your neck to provide support. 

3 – Child’s Pose

The child’s pose is a very simple yet effective way to help reduce back pain. This pose will work to stretch your spine to release tension. 

Here’s how to do the child’s pose:

  • To start the pose, kneel on the floor while keeping your feet tight together.
  • As you do this, slightly extend your knees so they are aligned with your hips.
  • Bend down so that your stomach fits between your knees.
  • Extend your arms out in front of you and slowly push your body forward on the ground.
  • As you do this, you should feel a slight pull in your back and shoulders.
  • Hold this yoga pose for 30 seconds while deeply inhaling and exhaling.
  • Once this time has passed, use your arms to slowly lift your body back up. 

4 – Cobra Pose

This popular yoga pose stretches and strengthens your back. 

Here’s how to do the cobra pose:

  • To do the cobra pose, lie with your stomach flat on the ground while keeping the back of your feet facing toward the ceiling.
  • Extend your arms so that they align with your shoulders and slowly lift your body up.
  • Make sure that as you do so your elbows are tightly pressed against your sides.
  • Hold this pose for 30 seconds and then lower yourself back to the ground. 

5 – Reclined Pigeon Pose

The reclined pigeon pose stretches your back, neck, and shoulders. It can also reduce sciatica symptoms. 

Here’s how to do the reclined pigeon pose:

  • The first step is to lie with your back on the floor while keeping your knees bent.
  • Then, take your right leg and cross it over the top of your left knee.
  • Stretch your right foot’s toes and slightly lift your left leg off of the ground.
  • Take your right arm and slide it through the leg openings and then grab your left hand with it.
  • Then, try to bring your left leg toward you while pressing against it with your right.
  • Hold this position for a few seconds, then release. 

6 – Standing Forward Bend Pose

Standing forward bend pose - yoga for bodybuilders and weightlifters

This yoga pose relaxes the body by releasing a large amount of endorphins. 

Here’s how to do the standing forward bend pose:

  • To do this pose first stand with correct posture.
  • Then, tilt your back down toward your feet as far as it will go.
  • While doing so, take your hands and grab onto the back of your ankles.
  • Hold this pose for 30 seconds and then slowly return to the original position. 

7 – Chair Pose

Not only does the chair pose strengthen your back muscles, but it helps to improve your posture and increase your flexibility. 

Here’s how to do the chair pose:

  • To begin the chair pose, stand with proper posture, and raise your arms.
  • Bring your palms together and slowly bend your knees until your thighs are parallel.
  • Tighten your shoulder blades and hold the pose for a few seconds.
  • Then, slowly bring your body back up to a standing position. 

Benefits of Yoga for Weightlifters

Stiff Leg Deadlifts back and hamstrings workout

Yoga might seem like it would be dangerous to do if you suffer from back pain, but it’s not. Below are some of the benefits it offers for back pain sufferers.

It Loosens Up Back Muscles

Sometimes back pain can be the result of tense muscles. Yoga helps to stretch out these tight muscles so they can move back into their natural position.

Over time, yoga can also strengthen these muscles while preventing future back pain. The deep stretching from yoga can also help you build more muscle as this promotes muscle recovery.

Because yoga will loosen up your muscles, you’ll find that your body will be more flexible. This can help to stop back strain and slipped discs. 

It Releases Endorphins

Endorphins are a type of hormone that tricks your brain’s pain receptors. This way, any discomfort you might be feeling will reside.

It’s the same as going to the gym and doing a brutal workout. Think about how awesome you feel after that?

Yoga works in the same way by releasing these endorphins and natural painkillers so you feel at ease and more positive. 

It Encourages Proper Posture 

Yoga can also help you with correcting your posture. If you use poor posture, it will put strain on your spine. This can weaken the surrounding tissues and put pressure on your vertebrae.

Over time, this can shift your body causing pain, including sciatic nerve damage. The way yoga fixes this is similar to how a chiropractor for sciatic nerve pain treats this problem. 

If you suffer from back pain and are looking for a simple yet effective way to treat it, consider yoga. Yoga not only works to relax your body but can help you build muscle and strength more effectively. And it can naturally heal your back pain and improve your spinal health. 

Dr. Brian Wells, D.C.
Better Health Alaska – Chiropractor – Physical Rehab – Massage Therapy

About Dr. Wells

Dr. Brent Wells, D.C. founded Better Health Chiropractic & Physical Rehab and has been a chiropractor for over 20 years. Besides spinal adjustment, his clinic has treated thousands of Anchorage patients through physical therapy and massage therapy designed to help give long-lasting relief.

Dr. Wells is also the author of over 700 online health articles that have been featured on sites such as Dr. Axe, Organic Facts, and Thrive Global. He is a proud member of the American Chiropractic Association and the American Academy of Spine Physicians. And he continues his education to remain active and updated in all studies related to neurology, physical rehab, biomechanics, spine conditions, brain injury trauma, and more.

References 

acpjournals.org
journals.lww.com

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