As a yoga teacher the question I get asked most is, “What can I do about my lower back pain?”
Almost everyone I know, including me, has had low back pain at some point in their lives. Of course, one should have it checked out with a doctor to make sure it’s not serious. If it’s not, a few simple stretches can really help it a lot.
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Low back pain is usually caused by tight hamstrings, hips, or a weakness in the abs. It could also be a combination of these things. The tightness can come about from over use, like if you decide to go for a run for the first time in months, or it can come from under use. As you sit around and don’t use the muscles, they eventually tighten up.
Of course, as a yoga instructor, my advice would be to include a regular yoga practice into your exercise routine, but I understand that that’s not possible for a lot of people, so I want to offer a simple stretch that anyone can do. You don’t need any special props or equipment. Don’t worry if you’ve never done yoga before, you can do it. I taught it to my husband and he uses it a lot after a long day of golf to help loosen him back up. It’s one of my favorite stretches to do because you can immediately feel the difference in your legs, hips and back.
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Start off on the floor on your back and loop a yoga strap around the arch of your foot. If you don’t have a yoga strap, don’t worry, you can use a belt or a towel. You want to activate the muscles in both of your legs, so flex the foot back toward the shins. Bring the leg up as far as you can until you start to feel the stretch in your hamstring. If you have super tight hamstrings, you may need to put a slight bend in the knee and that’s totally ok. You will still get the benefits of the stretch. Hold it there for 3-5 deep breaths and then on the next exhale try to draw the leg in slightly farther using the strap to gently pull. Hold it there for another 3-5 deep breaths.
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