If you live a sedentary lifestyle, or find yourself in a seated position for most of the day (i.e., students, office workers, long hours sitting in a car), your back will often become incredibly tight and sore as a result. Your legs will also cramp up, particularly your hamstrings.
Sitting does a load of damage to our bodies. Even researchers have made comparisons to sitting as equivalent to smoking. Sitting too much can lead to diabetes, heart disease, colon cancer, strained neck and shoulders, disk damage, weak abs, tight hips and an inflexible spine.
Making sure that your spine is in alignment and relaxed will allow it to properly support your entire body and head. Proper alignment of the body puts less stress on the spine, and helps you have good posture.
The spine is divided into four sections:
– Cervical spine (neck)
– Thoracic spine (chest/trunk)
– Lumbar spine (low back)
– Sacral spine (pelvic area)
The cervical spine helps support the weight of the head and has the greatest range of motion (for movement of the head). The thoracic spine helps hold the rib cage and protects the heart and lungs – not much range of motion in this area. The lumbar spine helps bear the weight of the body, and the vertebrae in this area are much larger in size to help absorb the stress of lifting and carrying heavy objects. Lastly, the sacral spine helps to connect the spine to the hip bones.
The lumbar spine is the most common source of back problems, including pain that radiates to the legs or feet. The sacral spine can also be a source of pain, as it is made up of fused bone segments that can deteriorate in times of stress, malnutrition or lack of physical activity.
Practicing yoga and performing body weight exercises can help improve posture, and alleviate pain in certain parts of your body. Chiropractic treatments and massage are also useful, but they will not build muscle to help support the spine, which is why yoga and body weight exercises practiced on a weekly basis, are incredibly helpful.
The yoga sequence below is incredibly helpful for the lower back. If you practice this demonstrated pose below for 2 minutes every single day, you can free yourself of any sort of lower back pain you have.
- Lie down on your back with feet firmly on the floor at hip’s distance apart. Place your hands to your side with your palms facing the ceiling. Rotate your pelvis inward so that the small of your back is touching the floor.
- Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths.
- Take out your strap and wrap it around your right foot so that it is resting just under the ball of your foot.
- Straighten your right leg upwards and hold each end of the strap firmly. Walk your hands upward on the strap so that your arms are almost straight.
- Try to keep your leg directly above your hip throughout the exercise.
- Hold for a few breaths.
- Repeat with the other leg.
- Next, repeat the stretch with your right leg and slowly straighten your left leg outward so that it is touching the floor. Keep your hips straight and keep both legs in line with your hips.
- Hold for a few breaths.
- Repeat with the left leg, extending the right leg on the ground.
- Release and bring your legs into your chest, wrapping your arms around them and gently rolling yourself side to side.
- Repeat as needed in times of pain.