Back Pain. Two words that most of us know all too well. If you’ve never experienced back pain you are one of the lucky ones.

According to the National Institutes of Health, 8 of 10 people will have an episode of back pain over the course of their lifetime. 

I know what you are thinking– “Thanks for that great news, Hope.”  Well, there IS a silver lining, I promise. While preventing back pain completely may not be possible, there ARE things that you can do to help to reduce your risk. 

Check out these five simple but effective back pain prevention and relief tips.

1. Stretch It Out

Addressing your hip flexors is vital to getting to the bottom of lower back pain. Hip flexors are an area of the body that is often misused and misunderstood. Hip flexors are a skeletal muscle group that allows us to move our thighs up and down. Of this group, the largest is the psoas (so-az). The psoas is a muscle that runs from the inside of the upper femur through the inner hip, passes through the abdomen, and attaches to the last rib and to the lower vertebrae. Spanning 16 inches in length, this guy is the longest and thickest muscle in the body.

Try this deep-release stretch to help restore the tone and function in the psoas.

2. Strengthen Your Core

Your core strength is vital in maintaining back support and reducing back pain. One of the primary aims of core exercise training is to prevent injuries that can occur if you don’t properly support the spine. Among the key benefits of core strength is the ability to reduce back pain. In fact, it is weak and unbalanced core muscles that are linked to low back pain. However, not many people truly understand where their core is, how to access it and how to safely use it. Join me for 7 minutes to a better, stronger, more functional core! 

3. Try Yoga

Yoga is a mind-body therapy that’s often recommended to treat not only back pain but the stress that accompanies it. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), researchers found that yoga was as effective as standard physical therapy for treating moderate to severe chronic low back pain in people in underserved communities. Learn How To Safely and Functionally heal the pain in your lower back, upper back, neck & shoulder with this Follow Along, Instructional Yoga Video.

4. Stop Crunching Your Vertebrae 

And I mean exactly that. As a yoga teacher and educator in core health, I have seen huge success and headway for those who change their approach to back bending. Most of us lean back and call it a backbend, only to leave the back, particularly the lower lumbar and sacrum to suffer. Now that suffering may not be felt today or even in the next year, but that build-up of negative compression over time will eventually lead to an unexpected pain or injury. Utilizing your pelvic floor and leading with your pelvis can allow you to feel a more complete spinal opening and also receive a release in the groin, an area we have muscles attaching in and locating their opposite ends at our lower back and ribs. So stand up, find neutral, activate your pelvic floor and torso circuit and inhale raise your arms and leading with your pelvis lean back. Let your spine, neck and head follow in the action of the pelvis rather than the neck and head flailing back as a means to go deeper.

5. Shift Your Mindset

We as a society (this is just a generalization, not everyone) have a: give it to me now, quick-fix attitude. And that attitude will reflect in our bodies’ responses to healing. If you want to improve flexibility, strength, or heal an injury, we need to start understanding and addressing that those things take time, both as the student and as the teacher to develop and maintain. A little goes a long way. Be detailed in what you are teaching and ask questions as a student. Just getting the movement done is not enough and just because something is hard or you are moving quickly doesn’t mean it’s healthy.  So if your back could talk, what would it say to you?

Following these simple tips can help you alleviate or prevent back pain. However, if you should experience back pain, don’t ignore it. It could be a sign of a more serious condition. Talk to your doctor about your symptoms and what you should do to find and treat the cause.

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