As a person ages, their likelihood of developing back pain increases. This doesn’t mean you have to accept back pain as an unavoidable symptom of aging. By staying active, you can keep your body young.
Yoga is particularly effective at both preventing and addressing back discomfort. That’s because yoga helps you build strength that provides for greater stability and flexibility. As a result, you’re less likely to develop back pain related to muscle tension or injury.
If your discomfort stems from an injury or medical condition, consult with a professional before starting any exercise routine. You want an expert to confirm you can perform these exercises safely. Depending on circumstances, your doctor may even refer you to a physical therapist so you can safely learn to perform exercises. For example, if you’re in New York, you would want to find a physical therapist in New York that’s located close to your home.
Whether you’re already struggling with some degree of age-related back pain, or you simply want to do everything you can to guard against it, these poses will help you stay comfortable and healthy throughout life.
Once you are in mountain pose, step back with your right foot, so that it’s about two feet behind your left foot. Your legs should remain straight, and your hips and feet should continue facing forward. Use your belly to lift your chest, and place your hands on your hips with your elbows slightly behind you. Breathe in, then bend forward at the hips during your exhale, trying to keep the spine as neutral as possible. Bend as low as you can without causing discomfort. Remain in this position for five breaths, then return to mountain pose, and repeat with your left side. This pose helps you develop greater balance.
Stirring the Pot
Start this pose by sitting in a chair. Keep your feet wide, with your knees and toes pointing slightly outward. With your feet firmly on the ground, put your hands on your thighs and rotate your torso as if your spine was a utensil and your pelvis was a bowl or pot you were trying to stir. Repeat this in one direction for five breaths, then return to a neutral position, before switching to the other direction for five more breaths. This pose has a positive impact on core muscles and the spine.
Starting in mountain pose with knees, feet, and hips facing forward, place your hands on your upper thighs. Draw your elbows behind your body and breathe in slowly, lifting your chest while moving the buttocks back. As you exhale, bend your knees and pull your stomach towards your spine, as if you were curving your entire body around a large inflatable ball. For three to five breaths, alternate between the two positions described here. Your spine mobility increases with this pose.
Seated Knee to Chest
Sit in a chair, with your feet, toes, and hips facing forward, and feet planted firmly on the ground. The taller the chair, the better. Inhale slowly, then exhale, bringing your right knee up to your chest. You want to blow out as much air from your lungs as possible. When you inhale, bring your knee back down, and repeat the movement with your left knee during the next exhale. Alternate on each side for five breaths. This is an effective way to stretch out your back.
Again, back pain doesn’t need to be a fact of life. Easing it (and preventing it) is possible with yoga poses like these. Practice them regularly to ward off back pain for years.
Guest Post by Rae Steinbach @araesininthesun Rae is a graduate of Tufts University with a combined International Relations and Chinese degree. After spending time living and working abroad in China, she returned to NYC to pursue her career and continue curating quality content. Rae is passionate about travel, food, and writing, of course.