Both as a yoga teacher, and a massage therapist, my most requested area of anatomy to work on is the back. That's not without good reason. Most of us have had back pain at some point and it can be really debilitating. In fact, According to the NHS, back pain is the single biggest cause of disability in the UK, with lower back pain alone accounting for 11% of the total disability of the UK population. I think there can be a tendency to associate back pain with getting on in years but I have observed more and more young people complaining of the ailment. "I might not have a job yet, but my back is ready to retire".
So what can we do about it? In one word, Move! Your spine is capable of so much movement, flexion, extension, side bending, rotation and combinations of all of these. Think of your spine like a slinky. Your back likes to move in all of these different ways, in fact it gets nourishment from it. Nothing beats regularly taking your back through its full range of movement like we do in yoga classes.
Interestingly, people will come to me with back pain having been told to try yoga as yoga strengthens the core. Yoga will strengthen the core but what is often overlooked is that it also strengthens the back! Muscles can get tight and need to be stretched but what is less well known is that a muscle can be tight because it is weak. This is something that I have experienced first hand. I suffered with terrible shoulder pain and tightness for many years. I spent much money and time on massages and other treatments but I never really found myself truly pain free until I strengthened my upper back and shoulders.
Regularly taking your back through its full range of movement as well as strengthening and stretching it will keep your back healthy and pain free. A good yoga class will help you do this. But if yoga isn't your thing what about Pilates or Body Balance, or maybe even a martial art? If you would like to try a yoga class with me, please do get in touch. Your first class is free so there really is nothing to lose.