Alternative Poses for Back Injuries

The majority of Americans will experience back pain at least once in their life according to the Mayo clinic. Causes range from injuries from a one time incident, repetitive stress injuries, degenerative disc disorder, spinal stenosis, arthritis osteoporosis among many other causes. Injuries are often causes by tight muscles, pinched nerves, bulging discs, displacement of the vertebrae or wear and tear on any of these areas located in the back.

The benefits of yoga to reduce pain from back injuries include…

    1. Increase body awarenessImprove postural alignment
    2. Reduce stress on the physical body and nervous system
    3. Increase flexibility and strength

The good news for those who experience back pain is that a consistent yoga practice with alternative poses for back injuries can help to relieve pain and heal an injury. However, alternative options for common poses is encouraged to prevent further injury and to support the spine. Here are a few common yoga poses and their alternative options for back injuries.

Alternative Yoga Pose for Child’s Pose (Balasana)

In the traditional variation of balasana the knees are flexed and the hips rest on the heels. The torso lays between the knees with the arms extended forward on the floor or mat. For a student experiencing a back injury child’s pose may offer some relief. However, for certain back injuries child’s pose can put pressure on the spine, pelvis and hips. An alternative yoga pose for back injuries is to take child’s pose on your back. Students with back injuries can recline on their back and draw their knees toward their shoulders placing their hands on their shins or under their knees.

Alternative Yoga Pose for Spinal Twisting (Supta Matsyendrasana)

Supta Matsyendrasana is a spinal twist. The leg is drawn across the body For certain back injuries taking a reclining spinal twist may alleviate pain for back injuries. However, for students with back injuries who notice pain in this pose an alternative yoga pose for a reclining spinal twist is with the aid props. Reclining on the back the student can place a bolster or blocks under the leg that is drawn across the body to assist and support the back injury and to avoid over rotating the spine. Another alternative yoga pose for spinal twisting is in a seated pose. To perform this pose take a comfortable seat and find a neutral pelvis. Strengthen the core by drawing the naval in towards the spine with an upward lifting motion. Rotate the spine using the muscles in the core to twist the lumbar spine to each side. In this alternative pose, focus on moving side to side with the core engaged and lengthening through the spine at all times, but especially if you have back injuries.

Alternative Yoga Pose for forward fold (Paschimottanasana)

An alternative yoga pose for forward folding if you have back injuries is to instead take this pose on your back using a strap. The key with forward folding if you have a back injury is to stabilize the lumbar spine. With this alternative one can continue to lengthen the posterior chain of the body by place a strap on the soles of the feet and keep the tailbone on the ground. Focus on drawing the toes toward the back of the mat while keeping the tailbone down to lengthen the hamstrings as an alternative yoga pose to folding completely forward in a seat. This modification brings safety and proper alignment to the pelvis and spine thus protecting any back injuries.

When it comes to back injuries and guiding the body into poses know there is always an alternative option that promotes safety, strength and flexibility without putting additional strain on the back. Always listen to you body and practice mindful movement. Enjoy your practice and consider using these alternative yoga poses in your own personal practice! Find your next class on our yoga schedule!