Americans annually spend around $100 billion in the management of low back pain, with more than half spent on surgical treatment, according to the Laser Spine Institute. In some cases, back pain can be relieved through self-help measures and stretching exercises such as yoga. Seek guidance from your physician before attempting to relieve back problems with yoga.
Upper Back Pain Exercises
Certain yoga postures and exercises may help alleviate pain in your upper back, neck and shoulders. In her book, "Healing Yoga for Neck & Shoulder Pain," Duke Integrative Medicine yoga therapist and personal trainer Carol Krucoff suggests that specific neck and shoulder postures can help alleviate tension and improve flexibility and strength in your neck, shoulders and upper back. Recommended postures include the Upper Back Stretch and the Supported Supine Backbend.
Mid-Back Pain Exercises
Mid-back pain is often caused or exacerbated by slumping and slouching. Specific yoga exercises can help correct muscle imbalances that cause poor posture, thereby alleviating mid-back pain, according to certified yoga instructor Julie Gudmestad in an article for Yoga Journal. To help mid-back pain, Gudmestad suggests postures such as the Locust pose, which helps strengthen the erector spinae, a group of muscles that help keep you in an upright position, and Mountain pose, which promotes proper posture and awareness.
Lower Back Pain Exercises
A clinical study published in the May 2005 issue of the journal "Pain," found that study participants with chronic lower back pain experienced reductions in pain intensity, functional disability and need for pain medication after participating in an Iyengar yoga therapy program. Lyengar yoga is a form of yoga that relies heavily on the use of props, bolsters and straps to support your body in specific poses. Poses that may help lower back pain include the Revolved Triangle pose with strap and yoga blocks and the Standing Forward Bend with yoga blocks, according to Harvard Health Publications.
Viniyoga is a type of yoga that may provide certain benefits for back pain, suggests MayoClinic.com. Viniyoga emphasizes a combination of modifications of traditional poses based on individual needs, yoga breathwork, chanting, meditation, ritual and the study of ancient texts, according to the American Viniyoga Institute. Unlike other forms of yoga, there is no set sequence of poses, so it's necessary to consult a certified Viniyoga teacher to determine the appropriate therapeutic poses for your back pain condition.
- MayoClinic.com: Back Pain: Alternative Medicine
- Healing Yoga for Neck & Shoulder Pain: Carol Krucoff
- Yoga Journal: Don't Be a Slouch
- Yoga Journal: Break Out of Your Slump
- Pain: Effect Of Iyengar Yoga Therapy For Chronic Low Back Pain
- Low-Back Pain: Healing Your Aching Back: Harvard Health Publications
- American Viniyoga Institute: What is Viniyoga?
Ashley Miller is a licensed social worker, psychotherapist, certified Reiki practitioner, yoga enthusiast and aromatherapist. She has also worked as an employee assistance program counselor and a substance-abuse professional. Miller holds a Master of Social Work and has extensive training in mental health diagnosis, as well as child and adolescent psychotherapy. She also has a bachelor's degree in music.