Joint pain can really slow us down, both physically and emotionally. Stretching out your low back when it is sore can feel amazing, but strengthening the supportive muscles around sore joints can be what really helps lift the weight out of those painful joints.
To feel comfortable in daily life when you're living with chronic pain requires becoming really good at balancing the two: stretching and strengthening.
If you are experiencing general low back or joint pain ask your doctor if gentle yoga is right for you, and then try these yoga poses to help keep you up and running.
Do this shape with a flexed foot to help stretch the muscles surrounding the lower back and hips that can grip and cause pain.
This can be delicious to stretch out your entire back. It also helps to rinse out the hips and shoulders. Make sure that you lie on the edge of the straight leg so that the twist comes from your spine rather then your sacrum. The top leg can be bent and relaxed to work more passively on the fascia (connective tissues that wrap and surround the muscles), or straight to kick into the muscular stretch by lengthening and pulling.
A lovely hamstring stretch for flexibility in the legs. Having loose hamstrings helps with hip and low back pain in a big way. In forward folds like Pyramid Pose simply think of your spine as a mirror for your hamstrings; if your back is arching it’s time to bend your knee to relieve your low back and perhaps press both hands into a block on the floor under your chest. This is because your hamstring is tight so your low back is picking up the strain. The more you stretch the hamstring out the more likely you are to be able to take Pyramid, or forward folds of any kind, without a bend in the knee and with a straighter back.
Warriors 1 and 2:
Both Warriors are very general standing shapes that help strengthen the leg, core and arm muscles. Having strong muscles takes the weight and strain off your joints- especially knees and hips. If Warrior arms are too intense for your upper body simply bring your hands to your hips in the beginning and work up to holding the arms parallel. There is no rush. Make sure you pull your navel in towards your spine so that your lower back is fully supported and not in a backbend. This will also work your core for added back care.
Whether you are on your forearms, hands, or choosing side plank variations with the lower knee up or down, this shape will quickly strengthen your entire body. Shoulders wrists, core, and back muscles working together can be intense so hold it for a short time. Try it squeezing a block between your legs to accentuate those benefits and support your knee health by engaging your quadriceps (thigh muscles).
Remember that a body in pain needs patience and understanding more than anything else. So take breaks and be mindful of any pain vs stretching or strengthening sensations. Knowing the difference is vital in keeping a healthy workout when struggling with injuries of any kind.