More folks deal with back pain than don't: In fact, 80 percent of people at some time in their life will come up against back problems. Take it from me: Big bummer. From uncomfortable to incapacitating, our modern lifestyles simply aren't conducive to strong spinal columns... what with all the desk hunching, driving and couch slumping.
But back sufferers need not be reliant upon a bottle of pills that don't even get the job done. Yoga poses that stretch and strengthen the spine and increase its range of motion have been found to make all the difference. Start slow and gentle with these exercises to get yourself on the road to healthy, pain-free posture.
First off: It's pretty important that you consult a professional before committing to any treatment - whether it be a doctor, a chiropractor or a learned yoga instructor. Knowing the source of your back issues is paramount to navigating which poses could heal and which could actually harm you. (If it's sciatica, we've got you covered.)
That said, these three yoga poses are gentle and effective to be practiced by most people... so long as you move mindfully and listen to your body's signals.
Cat/Cow: From hands and knees, make sure your shoulders are stacked directly over your wrists and hips over knees. On your inhale, tip your tailbone to the sky, drop your belly (arching the back) and lift the gaze. On your exhale, drop your tailbone, round the back and release the head, hollowing through the belly. You can think of it as inhaling to arch and exhaling to round your back, but let the movement begin at your tailbone and travel up your spine with each in and out breath.
Wall Plank: Stand in front of a wall at arm's length. Reach forward from your shoulders and plant your palms on the wall, fingers wide, pointing towards the ceiling. Firm your fingers into the wall and draw your navel back as you lengthen the tailbone towards the floor. You want to work with a natural lower back curve but an active core. Slowly begin walking your hands down the wall and feet back, folding from the hips, and if you can do so pain free, walk them down until you are in an L-shape with your wrists, shoulders and hips in one line.
Fish Pose: Lying on your back with bent knees and arms at your side, arch the back as far as is comfortable and raise it off the ground by pressing down into your elbows. If you can do so without discomfort, tilt the head back and rest the crown of your head on the floor. Breathe from the diaphragm and hold the position for a minute, if possible.