I recently developed my training with a Yin course, where we studied effects Yoga has on the skeleton, fascia, tendons and muscles. I was shocked to learn that many steroid injections and surgeries to the spine are now considered by the NHS to be unnecessary.
Back pain is not always associated with problems in the spine. If you were to scan the entire population of over 30 years olds, you are likely to find many apparent back problems. Slipped discs, herniated discs, misalignment of the vertebrae etc. So why do some of us suffer and others continue without any problems?
My studies have led me to believe pain is often caused by lack of movement. Keeping your back straight, holding your core and restricting movement can add to back problems. The spine has many joints and muscles, so flexing forward and back, side to side, rotating left to right and even lengthening the spine to hydrate the fascia, strengthen the ligaments & muscles and nourish our bones is important to avoid pain. If you had your arm in plaster for 6 weeks, you will need lots of physiotherapy to gain full movement in your elbow again, and its likely to hurt. If you do not do the exercises soon enough you are unlikely to gain a full range of movement again. If you do not use it, you lose it. And as our bodies slowly cease up, moving can hurt.
Often we need to look below or above the area of pain to find the cause of pain. A bad foot, knee, hip or shoulder can cause us to over compensate and hold tension elsewhere in the body. Often the back. This tension can lead to lack of movement and eventually pain, caused by lack of movement. For example short hamstrings, muscles in the back of the thighs, can aggravate sciatica, lower back pain, by pulling the pelvis back flattening the lower arch of the spine. Simply stretching the hamstrings can relieve lower back pain.
So simply put – motion is lotion. Yoga can move your skeleton, and especially your spine, in every direction. And I’m not suggesting strenuous movement here – you must always listen to your body and do what feels good.