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Can Yoga Help with Back Pain?

Many people suffering from back pain, in Seattle, Burien and the rest of the world, are often recommended by their doctors, or friends for that matter, to give a try to yoga in order to fix their back pain…Sometimes along a printed sheet of generic exercises…

Don’t get me wrong, I am all for encouraging people to move, become more active and join an exercise/ movement class… and sometimes that is all someone needs to feel better…
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…

In order for yoga to be beneficial for someone suffering with back pain, someone with specific pain triggers, and well as relieving posture, movement and position, I whole heartedly believe that this person has to be helped in finding out what these pain triggers and reliefs. And this take a full, detailed, hands on and all eyes on evaluation… In order to identify the specifics of that person back pain that are unique to that very person.
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 pierre@butheauphysio.com 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.
Happy Yoga!


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1 thought on “Can Yoga Help with Back Pain?”

  1. Most of the pain we are feeling are physical manifestations of what is inside our heads. If we are in deep emotional pain, we get sick for real. This is why aside from any physical treatment or activity, we also need to address each mind problem or whatever maybe boggling us, head on. Problems need to be solved or at least managed if they are a permanent thing we can’t change. We need to know how to react or play around them so they can’t negatively affect the other aspects of our lives.

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