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Tips to ease low back crankiness OFF your yoga mat

I’m back with a few more tips to share! I’ve been practicing yoga for 30 years and I’ve dealt with chronic low back pain for 20 years.  As a yoga teacher and movement instructor I chose to get smart about my body’s idiosyncrasies.  I’ve already shared a few blogs on how to deal with low back crankiness on your yoga mat, here are a few more things to keep in mind as you care for and strengthen your back:

  • Sleep is so important. Make sure you allow your body to rest and regenerate.  Shoot for 8 hours a night. (I KNOW, it’s hard, but that’s the goal)
  • On the subject of sleep, nocturnal inflammation is normal. When you sleep your entire body holds on to fluids, including the discs in your spine. So, be mindful for the first 10-15 minutes after rising from bed, it is one of the most common times that people tweak their backs.
    • If you have to pick something up off the floor keep your core engaged. Or try a golfer’s pick up. (Lift one leg straight out behind you as you bend over and keep your core engaged…this ensures you bend from hip joint and not low back).
    • Believe it or not, brushing your teeth can involve spinal flexion and rotation.(Picture yourself bending over the sink and then twisting your trunk side-to-side as your brush!) So again, move slowly and engage your core to support your low back
  • Move regularly.Don’t sit for long periods of time. If you get lost in your work, there are lots of apps and timers you can set to remind yourself to get up and move.
  • Walk, walk, walk. It’s great therapy. Keep your body loose as your walk, allow your arms to swing from your shoulders (not your elbows). This will allow a gently rotation in your trunk and help you build strength.
  • Try core exercises that include small movements. Smaller, subtler movements often involve smaller muscles like those that support your spine.  Just because you “can’t feel it” doesn’t mean it isn’t doing anything for you.
  • Here’s a fun one to try: Sneeze “up” not down.  Seriously, next time you feel yourself start to sneeze, tilt your head up and move slightly back as you sneeze.  Most people flex their spine and throw their torso’s down and forward as they sneeze. This can be painful depending on your back issue.  Try this and let me know what you think!
  • Finally, certain foods cause inflammation and inflammation often causes pain. Think about what you are eating. Notice which foods are followed by increased pain and then limit them.  For you it could be sugar, meat, certain grains.  We all have different triggers.

That’s it for now! Please take care of you mind, body and spirit both on and off your mats. Special thanks to my teacher Dinneen Viggiano for her “Retrain Back Pain” training and all the wisdom she has shared with me!