>Lately, I’ve been noticing I have lower back pain, which I actually know how to prevent from my yoga training. I get lazy with my posture and find myself slouching – the way I think most breastfeeding moms do… it’s difficult to prevent.
Anyway, I thought I’d share some of my knowledge on the subject. I’m sure you’ve heard before that you should build up your abs to prevent your back from taking on more than it can handle, which is definitely true. The key to preventing injury and pain in the first place is to strengthen your core, but that alone won’t necessarily prevent pain. Stretching will. More specifically, stretching your hamstrings.
Most people, including me until recently, don’t know all that much about human anatomy (and I’m still no expert). The muscles that make up your lower back directly attach to your hamstrings. So, if your hamstrings are tight, (which mine usually are) they will tug on your back muscles which just isn’t very comfortable! Here is a link to a much better description of the hamstring/lower back relationship.
So here are some hamstring stretches you can do every morning – along with your daily crunches of course 😉 and perfect posture – that will help you prevent back pain and injury:
- Standing Half Forward Bend (my favorite): Stand with your feet together parallel and your arms at your sides. Inhale and on the exhale fold forward from the crease of the hips with your hands on the legs above the knee. Lengthen the back. Extend the sides of the torso, lift the belly and ribs up. To concentrate on your hamstrings bend your legs enough for your hands to touch the ground and slowly straighten them, taking care to keep your back straight. (I like to do this stretch in the shower because the warm water relaxes my muscles, which allows me to get a deeper stretch – but obviously only do it in your shower if you have enough room to keep your head out of the stream of water!)
- Standing Forward Bend: Stand straight with your feet together. If possible, with your knees straight, bring your palms or finger tips to the floor slightly in front of or beside your feet, or bring your palms to the backs of your ankles. If this isn’t possible, cross your forearms and hold your elbows. Focus on stretching the back of your legs and not your back and bending from your hip joints rather than from your waist, otherwise you’ll just be stretching your back muscles further 🙂
- Seated Forward Bend: sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you and your back as straight as you can make it. Then bend forward slowly, keeping your back straight and bending your knees if necessary, until your finger tips touch your toes (or further if you are very flexible). Try to focus on bending from your hip joints rather than from your waist… you’ll feel the difference. Otherwise you’ll just be stretching your already over stretched lower back muscles!
The images I used all came from Yoga Journal and there are more “correct” instructions for these poses there (I linked to the articles in the picture, so if you click on the picture, you can see what I mean). If you have never done yoga before, or even if you’ve done a little, it can be hard to understand what they mean with instructions like: “Press through your palms or finger tips on the floor beside your hips and lift the top of the sternum toward the ceiling as the top thighs descend.” I won’t be offended if you like their instructions better… I was just trying to make things easier!
I hope you all found this post helpful! TGIF!!