I had some pain this week…some pretty bad pain. I found the solution for one of the pains, the pain in my lower back. The other pain, however, is more complicated. It is a pain that doesn’t have an easy, quick fix. It will be more difficult to fix, and I am trying to figure out how to make it stop.
Wednesday was the first yoga class I went to since last Saturday. My lower back was hurting…a LOT! I thought I might have injured myself. Each day it was painful to bend over, to sleep, to sit, to stand. It hurt all the time. I thought it would be best to take a few days off from yoga, so I didn’t go again until Wednesday. I took it easy, and made sure I concentrated very hard on sucking in my stomach. As the class progressed, my back began to feel better. I left the class with almost no pain. 🙂
When I got home I did some research on lower back pain and Bikram Yoga, and came across this site: http://www.bikramyoga.com/testimonials/HerniatedDiscs.htm
Herniated disc sounds so, well, painful and serious, but it is pretty common, and I self diagnosed myself as having a herniated disc: “Once a herniation, always a herniation. Intervertebral discs function to cushion the spine and absorb shock. A herniated disc is essentially a disc with a hole in it. In a herniation, the annulus fibrosis (the tough outer membrane of the disc) is breached, and the softer, inner membrane (the nucleus pulposis) extrudes. Pain occurs when the extrusion comes into contact with a nerve. A traumatic accident or years of accumulated abuse and degeneration of the tough outer walls most commonly cause herniated discs. Recent studies report that by the age of 20, nearly all Americans have some degeneration of the lumbar discs, but not all people experience pain. Most people with painful, herniated discs have either tight hamstrings (creating downward pressure on the pelvis) and/or weak abdominal muscles. Both cause a state of nearly constant forward bending in the low spine.”
I have always known that the abdominals, hamstrings, and lower back were interrelated, I didn’t know, however, the best way to relieve pain in the lower back. When your lower back hurts, what is the first thing you want to do? Bend forward to stretch both your hamstrings and lower back, right? Well, this actually is the worst thing you can do: “The spinal nerves are located on the back side of the spine. When a person bends forward, the front of the vertebrae move closer together. This forces the disc toward the back of the spine, and the spinal nerves. Persistent, unsupported forward bending will cause or aggravate back pain from herniated discs. It is essential, especially in the beginning of healing for the student to be very cautious with forward bending. Remember that bad posture, driving, working on the computer, slumping on the couch, gardening, etc, are all forward bends.”
The best thing to do is actually a back bend: “It will sound counterintuitive to most people to backward bend when they are sore, but it is essential to make that philosophy shift. Instead of leaning forward, a back pain-sufferer should try a supported standing backbend (like the set up for camel with the hands on the low spine) throughout the day as needed. It will be hard and sometimes painful in the beginning because of the trauma-like tension in the muscles and inflammation.”
I was discussing this with my wise friend, Dawn, and she said, “It makes sense. Think of lumbar support…it pushes your pelvis forward just as a backbend does.” Duh!
So, I took this newfound knowledge with me to yoga yesterday, and was extremely careful in the forward bends, and focused on the backbends, and bent as far as I could go! It felt incredible. Before, when my lower back was sore, I thought the backbends would exacerbate the pain, but it actually does the complete opposite! Who would’ve thought?
Now, if my lower back is sore in the middle of the day, instead of standing up and bending forward to stretch out my back, I will do a backbend. You try it, too!
Spine twists are also good for lower back pain, and this I did know. Along with forward bends, I also would try spine twists to alleviate the pain. Hey, at least I knew that! 😉
I learned that yoga can heal pain, I am a work in progress. I know it’s not healed, but my new discovery has led me in the right direction. Yoga helps with my other pain as well, but only for 90 minutes. After class, my back pain is better, but the other pain…the more complicated pain is still there, and boy does it hurt. 😦