If you’re like me and many others who started practicing yoga in order to learn how to avoid low back pain then you know how sensitive your back and your body can be during your practice. Preventing injury in yoga, especially if you already have a low back injury, should be your top concern as you move and stretch your body throughout your practice.
How to Avoid Low Back Pain
Low back pain affects nearly 8 out of 10 people at some point during their life and, according to the American Chiropractic Association, is the “single leading cause of disability worldwide”. If something happens that causes you to have sudden low back pain and is untreated for too long, it could turn in to chronic low back pain from things like sciatica or a herniated disc.
If you are practicing yoga because you already have chronic low back pain like I did when I first started, it is crucial that you do everything that you can do prevent further injury during your practice. Keeping the following things in mind while you practice is going to help you prevent injuries and avoid further low back pain.
1. Go at Your Own Pace
You’ve probably heard this piece of advice a million times but I can’t stress how critical this seemingly simple idea is to your practice.
However, if you already have had some experience with yoga then you probably know how awkward and off-balance you felt during your first couple of classes. You might have actually stopped going back to class because it seemed like your body would never bend the way that everyone else’s was bending.
You have to remember that yoga is just like any other sport, skill, or hobby that requires hours and hours of practice in order to even have an idea of what you are doing. Slowing your practice down and focusing on what feels good and what feels bad in your body is crucial for allowing your body time to get stronger and heal itself at its own pace
With time I believe that yoga can heal just about any type of injury in your body. I know for a fact that it reduces low back pain because after 15 years of chronic low back pain myself I am finally starting to feel real relief and all other aspects of my life have reaped the benefits as well.
So if you’re just starting, take it slow. Your back pain isn’t going anywhere until you give your body time to work out years of aches and pains that have stored up inside of it. Giving your body the time to work out all of the kinks at its own pace is going to allow it to heal faster and prevent further injuries that can set you back even further.
2. Maintain Proper Alignment
Many chronic low back pain conditions are due to the lower lumbar vertebrae not getting enough support from the muscles and joints around them and slipping out of alignment. If there is any sudden stress on the body while the lower back is already weakened then things like degenerative disc disease could easily develop if not properly rehabilitated.
Paying close attention to how your spine is aligned during your practice, especially while performing twists, will help lengthen the space between your lower lumbar vertebrae. As your vertebrae begin to realign, the connective tissue between your joints and muscles will begin to strengthen and rebuild giving your spine the support it needs to stay healthy and prevent further injury.
3. Remember Your Body is Unique
If you are following the first tip above and going at your own pace then this might not apply to you but it is important to remember that everyone is at a different stage in their yoga practice and practicing for many different reasons. Trying to match those that have been practicing longer than you and are more advanced is only going to lead to burning yourself out, or worse, further injury.
I attend yoga classes regularly and go to a variety of levels just to mix things up and I’d be lying if I said I was able to completely block out everyone else in the room throughout my entire practice. Especially if I’m in a full class, it’s sometimes hard to ignore the person practicing next to you.
It is in classes like these that you might start comparing yourself to the other people in the class and get discouraged about not being as far along in your practice as others might be. As long as you remember why you started practicing and where you want your body to be then you are exactly where you should be.
Stressing your body too hard before it’s ready can lead to injury, especially in yoga. This is your body that you are working with so listen to how it feels during your practice and only push yourself harder when you are ready.
Preventing Injury in Yoga
Preventing injury while in the beginning of your yoga practice is vital in order to give your body time to build the strength and flexibility it needs to heal your low back pain for good. The more you consistently show up to your mat you will see the long-term effects that a regular yoga practice can have on your body.
Following these tips will keep your practice simple and will help you avoid further low back pain in the future. Only you have the ability to heal your pain and sticking with a regular yoga practice is the fastest way to finding relief from your low back pain.
How do you prevent injury during your yoga practice?
Stick With It!