Maybe you don’t know that every Yoga teacher training should include a segment on back care, pain management, maintenance, and prevention. Let’s look at a couple of methods, anyone can incorporate into their day, in order to prevent back pain.
- Strengthen the core muscles. This is an area of the body we would like to ignore, but when we do, it continues to blossom in size. A big stomach is not useful for supporting the lower spine. Asana, alone, will not make a big belly shrink. We all know that eating moderately will help us control the size of our waistline.
That said – any asana or pranayama technique should be performed with balance in mind. If one performs hundreds of crunches, one must devote an equal amount of time to performing back-bending asanas. Crunches, alone, will tighten the abdominal muscles, but will stretch the back forward and out of balance.
This is why Bidalasana (Cat pose) and Bitilasana (Cow pose) are so beneficial for balancing the abdominal muscles with the back muscles. There are other methods, but these two simple postures, practiced as Cat and Cow, help us contract and stretch core muscles with ease.
- Sleep with good posture. Many Yoga teachers know this, but few students are made aware of this concept. Most people find that the morning is filled with stiffness. Many chalk it up to simply “sleeping wrong.” The mattress, pillows, and foam mattress pads, we choose, should be of good quality. Much like the quality we expect from good Yoga props, these “bedtime props” are very important for back pain prevention.
When we sleep, we are, in fact, practicing Yoga asanas for many hours. Your spine will thank you for sleeping on your sides. Sleeping on the stomach is not recommended, and you should avoid sleeping on your back for long periods of time. Pillows, of different sizes, will gently lock you into a side-relaxation asana. If you wake up during the night, re-adjust your pillows and shift to the opposite side.
You should flip, or rotate, your mattress position every month. When a mattress is concave, you need to replace it. You can ignore it, but your back will let you know. Pillows and foam mattress pads should be replaced every 1 – 2 years. This will enable you to have better neck and spinal alignment.
There is also another reason for getting rid of old pillows and foam mattresses – this will help reduce allergies, dust, dust mites, dust mite remains, pet dander, hair, and body oils, that have worked their way into a pillow’s fabric. Some studies indicate that the weight of a pillow can double in three years.
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