I hear every months from several patients suffering from back pain that when they consulted with their physician, they were encouraged to try yoga, join a yoga class.
And I do have a problem with that… I think the intentions are honest and doctors do want their patients to feel better of course…. But I do not believe you can fix something as specific as back pain without being specific in the treatment of it itself. Back Pain is not something that can be solved by swallowing a pill.
Yoga is an ancient, proven way to stay mobile, flexible and keep your joints healthy…For some people, it is a way of life. And I have absolutely nothing against that.
But one or several positions and pauses performed during a yoga session can actually really exacerbate someone’s back pain if they don’t know what they should avoid and if their anatomy, level of fitness, past medical history, postural habits have not been taken into consideration…
Yoga is great and helps maintain the mobility of your joints through their entire range of motion. The problem is that in many back conditions, your back will not tolerate the movement through most or the entire range of motion…Especially when this back pain is acute.
I have seen several patients in my career asking for help because of back pain that started after joining a weekly yoga class…which is unfortunate.
These patients back pain is clearly mechanical as it started when the spine was taken through motion it was not ready to go through, the rest of the body and other joints also were possibly not ready to go through, and/or the spine and body were possibly exposed to a new range of motion too fast, without graded exposure.
And so, again, I encourage people to try yoga if they have not…but I also encouraged them to be mindful of their limitations and to not push into pain if it appears and is associated with certain yoga pauses.
And if it does, look for help without waiting too long so you fix the problem and resume pain-free yoga by learning more about your back from a back specialist.
If you practice yoga currently and suffers from back pain, or have a history of back pain and would like to start yoga, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions you might have and how we can possibly help you in overcoming this pain so you can stay mobile, healthy and practice yoga for years to come.
Pierre-Yves Butheau, MPT, CMP has been a physiotherapist for 19 years and has a passion for helping people move better, return from and prevent injuries, as well as improve their function and quality of life. He has a strong interest in addressing the root cause of and treating neuro-musculoskeletal conditions while educating his patients with the knowledge to manage their conditions and prevent recurrence. Pierre also has a niche in treating Bell's palsy and temporomandibular joint dysfunctions.