BY: TRISHA CURLING
In the last edition, I talked about incorporating slow subtle movements in order to begin to reduce “Lower Back Pain”. I left you with Supine Twist as a way to begin. Starting on your back is a way to take some of the fear that might be associated when we start to move, it may also physically take some of the pressure off of the areas where you might be experiencing pain. I only briefly touched on the breath or breathing deeply during the pose, but this is actually huge and probably what we should be thinking about before even considering the pose. Reducing stress as much as possible in the body and mind will only increase the benefits of this or any posture. The next steps would be progressing into poses that are seated and then eventually standing. Reason being is that we put increased pressure on the spine as we move from supine to standing, and then of course standing with added movement. This is why it is imperative that we receive guidance first, from our doctors and therapists, and then potentially, from our yoga teachers (preferably in a private setting) to monitor our progress.
I also talked about muscles that might be weak in the body and these muscles as contributors as well. It’s impossible to talk about all of the reasons, contributors, and factors that lead to our pain in this two-part article, but taking one step at a time and gathering as much education from different sources as we can, is the best approach.
Muscles that might be weak are the glutes, back extensors and/or psoas. Let’s look at an exercise that may help to strengthen the glutes.
These often get “turned off” or weak due to lack of activity and/or a great deal of sitting. We tend to lose connections to these muscles and put pressure in other areas of the body to help us with movements we might take for granted or that seem simple like walking, or climbing stairs. This lack of connection may also be causing some instability in the hips. Add vigorous exercise to the mix and we might be further contributing to the root of our problem.
Here is an option to make a connection with your Glute Medius in particular:
Using a yoga block, lay it on it’s lowest level. If you do not have a block, consider using a sturdy hardcover book (be sure to have your whole foot on the surface of the block or book with no part hanging off). Use a mirror if you need, in order to check the level of your front hip bones, they should be drawing a straight line, or imagine drawing a horizontal line from one bone to the other. Feel free to put your hands on your hips to maintain balance. If you have your right foot on the block, your left is just hovering over the floor. Feel as though you are you are “hugging” your right hip in. In other words, don’t let it hang out to the side. Feel as though you are bringing the top of the upper thigh bone closer to the mid-line of your body. While maintaining the straight level of the hips, begin to slowly (without too much momentum) swing the left foot out further away from your body and then back in with even tempo. Be sure to repeat on the other side.
As mentioned, there are other areas of the body that require attention whether by strengthening, stretching, and/or mobilizing, but it’s smart to start simple and see how your body responds.