Chances are, if you have ever had to sit at a desk for a prolonged period of time, you have experienced back pain to some degree. Back pain is something most of us have dealt with at one point or another. It can be triggered by too little activity and excessive sitting, or too much activity and excessive moving and standing. If we don’t properly stretch the muscles of our back and surrounding areas, it can become tight and strained very easily. Tending to these areas can help prevent and alleviate discomfort in the back. Try these stretches to help relieve back pain next time you find yourself in need.
Extend your knees mat width apart and reach your hands forward, palms face down and plant your forehead on the mat. Relax your chest forward, melting it into the mat with each exhale. If the lower back is aggravated by the distance of the knees, move them closer together, achieving a more round spine. Hold for up to 2 minutes, breathing deeply and relaxing fully.
Come into table top position by stacking your wrists underneath your shoulders and knees underneath your hips. Maintain a long neutral spine and in an inhale, drop your belly and gaze toward the ceiling. On an exhale, press the mat away and create a c curve with your spine, gazing at your navel. Continue this pattern at your own pace, linking breath to movement. Continue for up to 20 rounds.
Come to stand toward the top of your mat, feet hips width apart. Create a slight bend in the knees and fold over your legs. Maintain a soft spine and allow the head and neck to hang heavy. Let the back round slightly and invite in any gentle movement if it feels good to you, maybe swaying back and forth slightly or nodding the head yes and no. Hold for around 20 breaths.
Come to lie down on your back. Place your feet on your mat and allow your knees to point toward the sky. Let your arms be long by your sides and on an inhale, press into the feet and lift the hips off of the mat, sliding a block or blanket underneath the sacrum and relaxing the weight of the body into the prop. Play with the position of the placement of the prop to find proper support. Hold and breathe for around 20 breaths.
Allow the spine to come back down to the mat. Have a block or blanket handy, and on an exhale drop both knees over to the right at belly button height. Place the prop underneath the knees for support and to make the twist a bit more gentle. Play with the height and amount of support that feels good for your back. Extend the arms out at shoulder height and gaze over the left shoulder. Be mindful of how this pose feels in your body and adjust accordingly, easing up or coming out if you need. Hold and breathe for 15 breaths and then switch sides.
Gabrielle Marchese is a certified yoga instructor.