Back Pain A Reality!
Back pain is a reality that most people experience, and now the trend is starting even earlier with children as young as 10 experiencing pain in the back and neck. This can be put down to modern lifestyles deteriorating our posture. Sitting all day at a desk, carrying heavy bags (even handbags fall into this category) staring down at a phone, driving, and even the shoes we wear to some extent negatively impacts our posture.
Hunched Shoulders & Low Self-esteem
Unfortunately the list doesn’t stop there, and nor does our bad posture. Hunched postures don’t end because we stop sitting, we then continue to walk and sleep in this way, causing a multitude of problems from back ache to spinal disk dislocation, and while pain is the physical discomfort we endure from bad posture, lack of confidence and insecurity are the lesser known side effects. When we see a person standing upright they appear to ooze confidence. Your body language not only signals to others your mood, but also affects your own state of mind.
“Movement, like posture, tells the brain how it feels and even manages what it remembers. As walking becomes more open, upright, and buoyant, our memories about ourselves follow suit.”
― Amy Cuddy, Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges
Watch this super interesting TED Talk by Amy Cuddy to find out more about how body language can affect your mood.
Get Curious & Help Yourself!
The big question is: what can we do to help ourselves? Well getting curious about your body and wanting to help yourself is the very first step. Beginning a yoga and or meditation practice is a great way to ease your body and mind while learning more about yourself. Recent studies have shown the huge benefits of yoga and meditation for even chronic pain management, with yoga showing to have long term effects on the brain and how we perceive pain. Personally I also experienced the power of yoga to correct my own posture and relieve back ache. An almost immediate effect of yoga and meditation is stress reduction, which in turn reduces the amount of tension in the muscles. Muscles assume their normal tone and flexibility, hence significantly reducing pressure in the back.
Break Patterns Feel Great!
So how can you get started today? Start by breaking your body out of its usual postural patterns and dedicate a little bit of time to moving the spine in all six directions, which make up the full spectrum of spinal movement.
Direction 1 – Spinal Extension aka arching the spine
This shape lengthens the spine, expands the chest, strengthens the lungs and facilitates deeper breathing. Emotionally it opens the space around the heart allowing difficult emotions to pass through and best of all it counteracts the hunched posture that we so regularly find ourselves in throughout the day.
This shape can also be seen in such postures as Cobra Pose and Upward Dog commonly known as backbends but better viewed as ‘front extensions’ as lengthening is the aim over bending!
Direction Two – Spinal Flexion aka rounding the spine
This shape works on increasing space in the back body stretching the back of the lungs and toning the abdomen. Emotionally it gives us the feeling to go inside become reflective and restore our natural calm. Deeper variations of this can be seen in paschimottanasana, a seated forward bend and uttanasana a standing forward bend.
Directions 3 & 4 – Lateral Side bending aka side stretches
By bending to the left and right we are stretching out the side body. This again creates even more space for the lungs, increases mobility in the ribcage and lengthens the muscles between the abdomen and the pelvis.
Deeper variations of this stretch can be found in postures such as parsvakonasana, extended side angle stretch and reverse warrior.
Directions 5 & 6 – Twists as experienced in seated or reclining twists to both sides
Twisting to the right and left completes the set of six directions, helping to work against fusing and limited mobility of the spine Twisting also hydrates the intervertebral disks and massages the organs within the abdomen supporting digestion by increasing bloodflow to the area. A deeper variation of a twist can be found in postures such as reverse triangle and reverse side angle stretch.
Simplicity is key!
The best thing about these exercises is they’re simplicity and the fact that you can practice them anywhere at any time. From your desk to your sofa or even while you are waiting in line!
Benefits of 6 Direction Back Stretch:
- Helps improve the body posture
- Strengthens the back and abdominal muscles
- Completely relaxes the tired back
- Good way to warm up the body before practicing other yoga postures
- Helps open up the lungs so that they can be used to their full capacity
What Is Correct Posture & Why Do I Need It?
Our correct posture is when the body is aligned in such a way that the back is straight, shoulders squared and relaxed, chin up, chest out, and stomach in. Yoga helps you achieve the correct posture as it targets the relaxation of specific muscle compartments. Cultivating good posture not only helps maintain a healthy body and spine it also helps to increase our confidence and promote a mind body awareness that allows a deep understanding of the body.