Lower back pain can be incredibly debilitating as it affects your entire muscular chain, which inhibits specific movements that you do throughout daily life including squatting, sitting, laying down, standing, and walking. Lower back tension can be the result of other muscle imbalances including poor posture due to weak upper back muscles and tight chest muscles, or even tightened hip flexors. Luckily, you can release the tension with stress-busting yoga moves that work to stretch the muscle fibers and break up the knotted muscles that are causing the tension. These yoga movements are recommended for anyone at any age to develop strength and flexibility in their lower back region. However, if you have had a previous back surgery or strain, it is best to consult your doctor before practicing these movements. The entire muscle chain is connected, so when you stretch the lower back area, you will release tension in your hips, legs, and neck. A study in the National Institutes of Health found that weekly classes of yoga or intensive stretching are both effective at reducing lower back pain and improving mobility.
These yoga exercises for back pain can be completed within the comfort of your own home. If you’d prefer to have more guidance, than you can contact a local yoga instructor to go through the movements with you.
10 Yoga Moves for Lower Back Pain
1. Pigeon Pose
The pigeon pose is excellent for releasing tight hip flexors and is the best yoga for hip pain. When hip flexors are tight, they put pressure and stress on your lower back. After experience chronic or longterm hip flexor tension, lower back problems begin to develop. Luckily, you can take care of this problem by focusing on the source. This movement is beneficial if you are already experiencing back soreness as it can release tension by stretching out your entire back. With that being said, it can also be completed to increase flexibility and to decrease the chance of a future injury.
- To get into pigeon pose, start in a tabletop position.
- Bring one foot up in front of you on the ground and bend your knee and rest that leg on the ground.
- Bring the opposing leg out straight behind you.
- You can remain with your upper body straight, or curl forward and rest your head or forearms on the ground.
- Hold for 30 seconds to one minute before switching leg positions. Complete 2-3 times on each side.
2. Child’s Pose
Child’s pose works to release tension in the lower back by putting the body in a position where there is minimal pressure on those muscles. In addition, it curves the back, giving you a chance to stretch the muscle fibers in the entire back, and more specifically the lower portion. Child’s pose also helps to release all tight back muscles, so it’s best to implement after you have started experiencing soreness, but it can also be used to stretch the muscles out in order to prevent a future injury.
- To get into position, sit back onto your heels and then extend your arms forward into a stretched out position.
- You can adjust your hips to be wider if it feels more comfortable.
- Hold this position for one minute or longer 2-3 times.
3. Forward Bend
The forward bend is a simple movement that stretches out the entire back by letting your weight fall over in front of you. This removes any pressure on the back and allows the muscles to relax and stretch. The forward bend is helpful to decrease soreness in the lower and upper back, and neck after soreness has set in. As with most stretches, this move can also be used to prevent pulling or straining your lower back muscles.
- Start in an upright position and curl forward by extending your arms and head into a hanging position in front of you.
- Focus on letting go of holding the position and let your upper body hang there for the ultimate tension release.
- Hold for 30 seconds to one minute 2-3 times.
4. Cat-Cow Pose
The cat-cow pose is an active release for tension because it involves movement along with stretching. This movement is beneficial for lower back soreness because it takes you through the entire range of motion to work out any kinks or tight muscles that could be affecting the lower back.
- Begin in a tabletop position with your hands and knees on the ground.
- Next, curl your spine upward as you lower your head toward the ground.
- Hold this position for as long as you would like before releasing the rounded position and curling the spine toward the ground with your head and neck up.
- Try to maintain a neutral neck position throughout the movement.
- Complete 3-5 slow repetitions at a time.
5. Downward Dog
This classic yoga pose relieves tension in your lower back by stretching out all of your back muscles and shoulders in a downward position. It can be used to stretch out this region to prevent future injury, or to give you relief from current muscle tightness.
- Start on your hands and knees and then plant both feet into the ground.
- Your legs can have a slight bend in them, but aim to keep them straight.
- Next, walk your feet up so that your butt is up in the air.
- You should be looking down with a neutral head, neck and spine. In addition, your fingers should be spread wide to accommodate and support the movement.
- Hold for about one minute 2-3 times.
The sphinx pose is ideal if you would like to be laying down on the ground on your stomach while stretching out your lower back. Again, this stretch can be used to prevent injury or to release current tension.
- Lay down on your stomach.
- Next, place your forearms in front of you with palms facing down.
- After that, look directly in front of you with your chest open, causing a slight curve in your lower back.
- Make sure to keep your neck neutral and avoid strain throughout the movement.
- Hold for 30 seconds 2-3 times.
7. Triangle Pose
The triangle pose works to release lower back pain on each side individually. This yoga sequence for back pain stretches out the sides of your lower back to make sure that there is pain relief from every angle. This stretch is perfect for injury prevention or just to stretch out.
- Start with your right foot facing forward and your left foot pointing to the right.
- Your legs should be in a lunge type position, but straight instead of bent.
- Next, lower your left hand to your right foot and keep your right arm extended up in the air.
- Be sure to keep your chest open and your gaze upward toward your right arm.
- Hold this position for 30 seconds 2-3 times on both sides.
8. Upward Facing Dog
Upward facing dog not only stretches your lower back, but it strengthens it too. This move doubles as one to prevent injury via stretching and building muscle. In addition, it can be used for pain relief if you’re looking to stretch out those muscles.
- Lay down on your stomach and place both hands in front of you.
- Next, push away from the ground and make sure your gaze is facing forward.
- Make sure that your chest is out and your shoulders are rolled back.
- Hold this position for 30 seconds 2-3 times.
9. Seated Forward Fold
This yoga move takes place while sitting on the ground. It is similar to the forward fold, except instead of standing, you sit and fold your body forward. This movement helps to release tension and muscle tightness from your neck all the way to your lower back. It works to prevent strains as well as stretch out lower back muscles with chronic soreness.
- First, sit upright and fold your upper body forward over your lower body.
- Next, extend both of your arms toward your feet.
- Lower your head into your lap as you stretch out your back.
- Hold for one minute 2-3 times.
10. Lunge with Back Bend
This yoga move can be completed individually on both the left and right sides. It works on the flexibility and mobility of your back muscles to prevent future injury.
- Begin in a lunge position with your right foot forward and your left foot back.
- Next, bend your right leg and extend your arms overhead, curving your back.
- Hold this position for 30 seconds 2-3 times.
The benefits of this yoga sequence for back pain is that you will have a decreased risk for injury, pain relief, more overall flexibility, and a better ability to complete functional daily movements such as squatting, reaching, and rotating. These benefits carry over to everyday life to ensure ease with movements. To maximize benefits, aim to practice these poses on a nightly basis. It’s best if you can go through each of the moves for their allotted repetitions/durations each night. If that isn’t possible due to time constraints, you can pick three of them to practice each night and mix and match to keep your practice varied. This routine of yoga moves for lower back pain will help to bust stress, release lower back tension to prevent future strain, or stretch out currently tight muscles.