Despite proper posture being one of the key factors to spinal health, it’s often difficult to maintain posture consciousness throughout our daily lives. Neck and back pain are gradually becoming more common than ever before; the good news is, there are clear-cut reasons behind this phenomenon. One central reason for this uptick can be explained by the technologically-ruled society we live in, wherein most everyone owns a smartphone and computer. Such devices often lead to constant neck craning and back hunching as we strive to absorb the constant stream of information emitting from our electronic screens.
Back Pain and chiropractic methods
A recent Nielsen Company audience report states that the average American dedicates over 10 hours a day to screen time, which includes – but is not limited to – phones, tablets, TV screens, and computers. As we become increasingly glued to our devices, posture health is correlatively declining. This lends itself to a staggering escalation in chiropractic use; the American Chiropractic Association has reported that more than half the American population has sought treatment from chiropractic physicians. Fortunately, spinal damage is often not irreparable, but it also doesn’t need to be costly. One of the greatest methods of achieving better and more consistent posture is by practicing yoga!
While yoga is a popular source of stress relief and exercise, one of its less known benefits is prevention and reduction of back pain. Here are a few yoga poses that are intended to eliminate back pain and improve upon your posture:
- Begin by laying flat on your back with knees bent at hip-distance apart and both feet planted on your mat. Allow your arms to lie at your sides.
- Plant the palms of your hands face-down on the floor and gently lift your hips and buttocks off the ground and toward the ceiling. Your back will follow suit accordingly, while your shoulders and arms should remain planted on the floor.
- If you’d like, you may interlace your fingers together under your buttocks, though your arms and hands should still be firmly grounded to the floor.
- Maintain this pose for a few deep breaths as you concentrate on each inhalation and exhalation. This should help release any tension from your body and assist you in avoiding any inadvertent clenching.
- Slowly release your hips and gradually bring them back down to the ground. If your body allows, you may repeat this set 2 or 3 times as you see fit.
- Set this pose up by beginning with a table pose: hands and knees planted on the ground shoulder-width apart, and knees directly parallel under your hips. Allow your head to rest at a neutral position as you direct your eye gaze to the ground.
- Initiate cow pose by drawing your belly towards the ground, which will in turn require you to arch your back. Lift your chin up as you gaze towards the direction of the ceiling.
- To move into cat pose, commit to exhaling as you arch your back in the opposite direction towards the ceiling. Draw your belly in as though you’d taken a punch to the gut. Your head should now be facing the ground and your chin should tuck towards the direction of your chest. Your chin does not have to physically make contact with your chest, and you should still feel relaxed in this position. If you feel any tension or discomfort, slowly release into a neutral position.
- As you inhale, return to cow pose. On exhalation, revert back to cat pose. You may conduct a few sets of cat/cow pose and embrace the varying curves of your spine.
- Set up for Camel Pose by coming down to rest on your knees, which should be hip-distance apart. Then, slowly lift your thighs up. If your toes are curled, uncurl them and ensure that the topside of your feet are planted on your mat.
- Next, place both hands on your respective hips and begin stretching your shoulder blades back and towards each other, almost as if you want them to touch.
- Begin arching your spine back and open your chest towards the ceiling. Lift your chin up towards the ceiling and allow your head to drop back, so that the crown of your head is pointed towards the back of the room.
- Slowly and carefully reach one hand back to grasp your ankle or heel, and allow the other hand to follow suit on the other side.
- Continue to draw your shoulder blades back and towards each other for an even deeper stretch. Camel Pose is often referred to as a “heart-opening” exercise as you feel the opening and release of your chest.
- Maintain this position for a couple of breaths and when you are ready, slowly release one hand’s grasp from your ankle and bring it forward. As you regain balance, you may release your other hand and gradually unarch your back until you have reverted to your original starting stance. You may repeat this pose a few times and upon completion, allow your body to come down to Child’s Pose.
Before performing any of these poses, please be conscious of any physical limitations you have. Each of our bodies have experienced different forms and degrees of tension and trauma, which is why many yoga poses can be easily modified to suit the needs of your individual body.
Yoga is a wonderful means of correcting and improving posture, and can do remarkable things for spinal health. Although many of us are obligated to sit at a desk for several hours a day, our spines do not need to pay the cost. If you can maintain mindfulness of your posture and routinely engage in beneficial yoga poses, your back (and your wallet) will surely thank you in the long run!