5 Benefits Of Twists In Yoga For Back Pain Relief

If you’ve ever taken a yoga class before then you might have noticed that yoga incorporates twisting postures more than any other exercise routine that you’ve probably ever done. Not only are twisting postures necessary if you are using yoga for back pain relief, the benefits of twists in yoga go far deeper than you might think.

5 Benefits Of Twists In Yoga

Practicing twists is an area of yoga that is fundamental in virtually all yoga practices. Whether you are in a variation of Supine Spinal Twist while taking a restorative yoga class or an an advanced twisting posture like Revolved Half Moon Pose in a vinyasa yoga class, you will more than likely be twisting your body at some point during the class. 

Not only do twists help rehabilitate chronic back pain, but they are also crucial in preventing more pain in the future.

However, it is important to remember that if you are experiencing pain from an injury like overextension then twisting your muscles might not be the best thing for you. Since overextended muscles are torn differently depending on how you injured it, you should always listen to your body and not perform an exercise if you feel something tweak or twinge.

Twisting poses are meant to lengthen and decompress your muscles and joints while releasing pressure so twisting an acute injury isn’t recommended.

Twisting Triangle Pose
Spinal rotation and flexibility are two benefits of twists in yoga.

1. Improved Spinal Rotation

Since the majority of people in today’s world work in a job that requires them to sit down for most of the day and don’t get as much exercise as they should, the muscles around their core have weakened and gotten tighter. 

Your core muscles include all of the muscles around the middle of your body, including your abdominal and lower back muscles. When you practice twists in yoga you are stretching your oblique abdominal and lower back muscles which provides more range of motion for your spine.

If your muscles are tight from inactivity then any sudden rotation of the spine, such as throwing a shovel full of snow over your shoulder, could cause serious injury to your back.

2. Increased Spinal Muscle Flexibility

As your oblique abdominal and lower back muscles begin to loosen up from practicing twisting yoga poses, you’ll start to notice that you are able to put your body into positions that you’ve never been in before. This increased flexibility allows you to get deeper into your core and work out kinks that have caused you chronic pain for years.

Ever since I started practicing yoga my flexibility in my entire body has increased dramatically, especially in my core. Because my core muscles continue to get stronger the more I practice I am able to support myself better while in advanced twisting postures without the assistance of a block or hand on the ground.

Being able to almost defy gravity and open up your chest while twisting gives you the ability to pinpoint exactly where in your body is causing you pain and use a twist to work it out.

3. Improved Spinal Alignment

If you are at the beginning of your yoga journey then it is likely that you aren’t yet as strong as you would like to be or the pain that brought you to yoga is still there so moving into even the most basic twist could still cause you problems.

From the very beginning, no matter how deep you are able to get into the pose, you are beginning to realign your spine as the pressure between your vertebrae is released and the connective tissue between the muscles and joints get stronger.

Twisting Beginner
Start slow when practicing twists in yoga for back pain relief.

4. Increased Blood Flow To Muscles And Organs

As you twist you are stretching your muscles and compressing your internal organs which can throw off the regular flow of blood through your body. Constricting blood flow from your organs and then giving them fresh blood when you release your twist will increase their circulation and ability to function.

Also, many twists require you to be at angles that cause your blood to drain from one side of your body to the other. Increasing the blood flow while your muscles are lengthened as you stretch increases the amount of nutrients that your muscles are getting and helps them heal faster.

5. Decreased Stress Levels

Twists can be some of the most difficult poses to do because of the the amount of strength, flexibility, and balance a lot of the postures require. Because you are so focused on not falling over or trying to maintain your body weight you forget about everything else that is going on in the room or your life.

Since your focus is so set on your breath and not falling over, twisting postures help lower your heart rate when faced with stress or anxiety.

Practicing Yoga For Back Pain Relief

Combined with a regular yoga practice twists can be one of the best tools that you can use to dig deep in your body to help heal chronic back pain.

In my case, I suffered from chronic low back pain for half of my life until I started practicing yoga consistently. Now when I practice twists I can actually feel the pain deep inside my lower back and am able to massage it out as I twist my body.

The only way that you are going to be able to find relief from the pain is if you finally take your doctor’s advice and commit to healing your body. It’s not going to happen overnight, and you’ll probably have to do it for the rest of your life, but the relief that you will feel will be worth it and you’ll be in the best shape of your life, both physically and mentally.

What benefits do you get from twisting yoga postures?

Stick With It!

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  1. Jacqueline Kirk

    I absolutely love how educational your site is. I never thought of yoga as a potential pain reliever for my back. Do you recommend starting out as a beginner if I am not currently active? I know it’s a great stress reliever and helps flexibility. How long would you say it takes to notice an increase in your overall body circulation?

    1. yoga (Post author)

      Hi Jacqueline!
      I’m glad you were able to find the site useful! If you’re not currently active then the best thing you can do if you want to give yoga a try is to find a 15-20 minute beginner’s class online (most classes at studios are at least an hour so jumping in to a full blown class right out of the gate might not be the best idea). Since you’re at home and no one is watching you can really give the beginner routine your best shot and then either up the intensity the next time, keep it the same, or bring it down a bit.
      It really is about what feels good in your body so you might need to take it very slow at first but overtime your body will loosen up and you’ll be able to do more advanced routines.
      There was never a specific moment when I felt my circulation was better – it just happens without you even noticing because you feel so good.
      Thanks for the comment!

  2. KariLee

    I have been wanting to take a yoga class, but like you said, the classes are at the wrong time on the wrong day and because I live in a rural area there are very limited options.
    Many years ago I took a tai chi class and I never felt better! I am hoping yoga will do the same.
    I also would like to increase or at least maintain my flexibility since I will very shortly be turning 60 yrs. old.
    After visiting your site I am more motivated than ever, everything you talk about are areas where I could improve.
    I have a moderate scoliosis that does cause pain and lack of function, I find it more difficult to even drive a car as I have no vision in my left eye, and turning my head is far limited from the degree of rotation I had when I was younger.
    Stress? Hmmm…
    Becoming older, wiser, and assured isn’t how this is really working. I have developed adult onset ADHD and OCD instead!
    I really want to try yoga to improve my general health and I think you have provided me with an excellent place to start. Everything you have written is very relevant to me and others like me who just need help understanding what can be gained with a commitment to yoga.
    You have a great source of information and resources.

    1. yoga (Post author)

      Hi Kari!
      One of the best things about the world we live in is that we can have access to all the best training we could ask for, even if we live in the middle of nowhere, as long as we have the internet. There are tons of great classes available online so it’s easier then ever to get in shape.
      Starting a low-intensity and maybe even restorative yoga classes to build your flexibility through slow, steady movements.
      It sounds like everything that you are currently struggling with might be able to be helped with a regular yoga practice. Even if you only lay on your mat and stretch and breathe for 15-20 minutes a couple of times a week you will feel stronger and more mentally focused. After a while you’ll be ready for more intense routines – I’ve seen women in their 60’s keep up with a much younger crowd in many of my yoga classes. There is no age limit with yoga and it can help anyone as long as you take it as slow as your body needs.
      I hope you decide to give yoga a try – it really can change your life if you give it a chance!
      Please let me know if you have any questions along the way!

  3. Sethu

    I had a back injury 5 years ago and got bedridden for almost 5 months. Now to this day, I sometimes feel sore on my back after hours of sitting or driving. Due to my work load, I often don’t get time for yoga. But I’m planning to do it on a daily basis.

    Sometimes, I feel anxiety due to my work and get migraine often. I think yoga is the best solution for all these. After going through this article, I think I should include these twists into my fitness routine. Since these twists could reduce stress level, it would be like killing two birds with one stone. I’ll definitely try this out. Thanks for the article.

    1. yoga (Post author)

      Thanks for sharing your story! Even if you can only find a few minutes once or twice a week, you’ll thank yourself in the long-run. Yoga isn’t a quick fix anyways, it is a lifestyle choice and it just so happens to have the benefit of healing your body and your mind. Good luck!


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