By Dr. Prachi Karande | PT, DPT


Have you been suffering from chronic low back pain for years without consistent relief? Chronic low back pain (CLBP) is one of the leading causes of disability affecting an individual’s ability to participate in activities at home, work and out in the community. Recent studies exploring the integration of yoga into physical therapy programs show successful outcomes in reducing pain levels/disability, maintaining flexibility and building strength.

Acute low back pain (early stages of injury) typically has a known origin (e.g. trauma, injury, disc herniation, lumbar muscle strain) whereas chronic low back pain (late stages of injury) can be defined as pain existing for longer than 3 months of a known/unknown origin whereas with limited to no relief. 

Yoga, an ancient practice that originated in India 5,000+ years ago, is the union of mind, body and spirit. Today, millions of people around the world practice yoga. This union of mindfulness and movement goes hand-in-hand with the principles of physical rehabilitation. Rhythmic breathing combined with intentional and focused muscle movement and body position create the perfect conditions to facilitate safe mobility, flexibility, core stability, and full body strengthening, common intervention targets addressed during CLBP rehab. Yoga has also been shown to encourage relaxation and reduce stress and anxiety which often occur with chronic conditions such as LBP. 

Below are the top 3 exercises commonly used to manage chronic LBP that evidence demonstrates benefits for maintaining mobility, flexibility and preliminary strength. 

Child’s pose

Begin in a seated position on your heels. Bring your big toes to touch and knees out wide. Exhale as you bend forward, arms reaching forward as you lower your hips to sit on your heels. Take slow and deep inhales and exhales as you lengthen and stretch forward for 1 min.

Cat camel

 

Assume table-top position, on all fours, stack shoulders over wrists and hips over knees keeping shoulder width distance. Let your belly, pelvis and low back sink as you inhale lifting sit bones up and neck and head up. Exhale as you round, bring spine up pushing the ground away with hands and head down. Gently and slowly move between those two poses with the synchronized breath. Perform for 1 min.

 

Downward Dog

From table-top, tuck toes under, exhale, and push up through palms, lifting knees away from floor. Keep wrists shoulder width apart and slightly spread fingers. Bend knees slightly as you push your chest closer to your thighs, lengthening the spine.  Hold for one minute taking deep breaths, sinking heels lower onto mat and chest closer towards thighs.

As with any exercise, limitations exist, yoga may exacerbate pain intensity if in acute stages (early stages). If you are interested in more information on if therapeutic yoga exercises are appropriate for you to combat your low back pain, contact or schedule a visit with Performance Plus Physical Therapy for a full assessment and personalized home exercise program. 

 

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