You depend on the strength and flexibility of your spine for nearly everything you do, from walking and sitting to sleeping well and working. With our lives being a chaotic challenge, almost everyone in the modern age complains of back issues, especially as they age. This is because we’re constantly sitting in chairs, sitting in cars, and not moving around nearly as much as we’re designed to. One way to combat this is to practice yoga poses that help build a strong upper back.
In order to move through the wide range of motion you task your spine with on a regular basis, you need it to be both strong and flexible. To build back strength, your muscles have to contract with more force than they’re used to in daily activities. In yoga, this means practicing or staying in poses that require the muscles to contract strongly, like backbends and twists.
Building Back Strength with Yoga
Yoga aims to promote the correct curvature of the spine, and this requires a play between both strength and flexibility. Asanas like twists have the potential to help decompress the discs and elongate the spine, opening the spaces between the vertebrae, activating the muscles around the discs, and increasing blood flow to the spinal area to deliver pain-fighting, healing, anti-inflammatory oxygen. But the benefits of yoga go beyond muscles. The slow movements and the continuous focus on proper breathing can improve the emotional aspect of back pain by helping to lower stress and alleviate anxiety and depression.
4 Benefits of Yoga for Back Pain
Relaxes & Stretches Muscles
Each yoga pose should be held for 10-60 seconds and incorporates relaxation and stretching of muscles, which helps to relieve muscular tension. This combination of movement and breath encourages muscle relaxation and increased flexibility of the joints and muscles of the back.
Yoga helps increase strength in very specific muscles and muscle groups. Many of the postures in yoga gently strengthen the muscles in the back, as well as the abdominal muscles. The back and abdominal muscles are essential components of the muscular network of the spine so keeping them well conditioned alleviates pain greatly.
Posture Balance & Body Alignment
The yoga poses are meant to train the body to be healthy and supple. Consistent practice and application will result in improved posture, and an increased sense of balance, with the head, shoulders, and pelvis in proper alignment. Additionally, unlike many other forms of exercise, yoga helps stretch and strengthens both sides of the body equally.
Improves Mental Health
Yoga helps to focus your energy on breathing and maintaining a neutral posture during each pose. Additionally, the regular practice of yoga puts your mind into a relaxed state, allowing you to meditate during the exercise. These effects help to decrease stress and anxiety and enhance your mood. A relaxed state of being and enhanced mood can help combat the negative psychological effects that chronic back pain can inflict.
4 Yoga Poses To Build Back Strength
1. Cat Cow Pose (Chakravakasana)
This gentle and easy to do backbend stretches the spine and releases tension from the torso, shoulders and neck.
How to do it?
- Get on all fours with your wrists shoulder length apart and your knees hip length apart.
- Inhale as you look towards the sky and curve your back to let your stomach drop.
- Exhale as you tuck your chin to your chest and draw your navel towards the spine.
2. Downward-Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
This must-do forward bend is a relaxing exercise that relieves pain from the back and sciatica. It also improves back strength and works out imbalances in the body.
How to do it?
- Get on all fours like you did for the previous asana. Press your hands down, tuck your toes and lift up off your knees.
- Stretch your back and lift your tailbone towards the ceiling.
- Slightly bend your knees as your lengthen your spine.
- Keep your heels slightly off the ground and press firmly into your hands.
3. Extended Triangle (Trikonasana)
This standing posture helps with back pain, sciatica, and neck pain. It’s a great stretch for the spine, hips, and groin, and makes the shoulders, chest, and legs stronger.
How to do it?
- Walk your feet four feet apart.
- Turn your right toes to the front, and left toes out perpendicular.
- Lift your arms up, parallel to the floor with your palms facing down.
- Bend forward and place your right hand next to your right foot and left arm towards the ceiling.
4. Sphinx Pose (Salamba Bhujangasana)
This back stretch is perfect to strengthen your spine and tail bone. It also stretches the chest, shoulders, and abdomen, and helps relieve stress and anxiety.
How to do it?
- Lie on your stomach with your legs extended towards the back.
- Bring your awareness to the muscles of your lower back, tailbone and thighs.
- Bring your elbows under your shoulders with your forearms pressed on the floor, palms facing down.
- Slowly lift upward to raise your torso and head.
- Ensure you’re lifting from the spine and towards the crown of your head and keep your lower abdominals engaged.
If you’re a back-pain sufferer and you’re looking for relief, one solution to try should be yoga. Research has proven that it can help decrease pain, improve function, and enhance the quality of life; additionally, it also reduces stress and anxiety and improves overall mood. Thus, it serves as the perfect treatment option for those looking for a non-invasive pain management technique.
To learn the asanas that can help you build a strong back, download the ThinkRight.me app.