How I Cured My Back Pain with Yoga
If you have back pain, then I’m sure you’re tired of having back pain. Well, what if I told you that the cure for your back pain is at your fingertips?
And on your yoga mat.
I have a lot of right side pain. Anyone with inflammatory illnesses (like arthritis or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) or plain old inflammation knows what I’m talking about. If you have a sedentary job (like, oh, say...WRITING), or you don't move around much because it's winter and roughly -0º F outside, or because the glow of the television screen is too comforting to get up off the sofa, then you probably hurt somewhere.
Or a lot of somewheres.
But it's not just a case of "I'm old and I hurt." I mean, yes, there is an element of that, because aging seems to change parts of our bodies without first consulting us. Where we used to be able to stand with relatively little effort, or raise our arms over our head now and then you have a moment that you have to try to do both of those things. Take heart, though. There is a lot you can do to decrease the hurt. First off, you can also start paying attention to the reasons you might be hurting.
For example, when my right side starts to go wonky, I notice I sit with my right foot turned on the side and my left foot propped on top of it when I type. This sounds like a really great position to sit in for hours, doesn't it???
Yesterday was the pinnacle of pain for me. I'd spent several days with my fingers on the keyboard and even a break on Sunday didn't help. Since I didn't want to sit any longer, the husband and I went to Whole Foods to do some shopping, because APPARENTLY if you eat nothing but fast food and pizza, you feel like garbage.
While we were shopping, I was getting this horrific tension headache that was making me dizzy, so that made shopping fun. (Not.) I also noticed I wasn't standing up straight, and both my big toes were numb. I concluded that this, along with lower back pain that was epic, was probably due to something pinching something else...
(That’s a technical term.)
So, when we brought our groceries home, I announced to Mr. Lemmony I was doing yoga, and because my husband is a health nut, he decided to join me. If you follow me anywhere, you've heard me tout the benefits of an app called Yoga Studio. I have it on my iThings (iPad and iPhone) so you might’ve heard of it since I usually tweet after I've done a session.
I fired up Yoga Studio and looked for classes specializing in back pain. Lo and behold, I found one for strengthening your back. It's a 20 minute class and promises to put your spine back in a neutral position. Handy, since mine felt as if an Xray would reveal a squiggly line where my backbone should be.
Wow. Did that class hurt.
Yeah, you heard me. It hurt. Yoga is not supposed to hurt because you're not supposed to push yourself too hard. But I wasn't hurting because I was pushing myself. I was hurting because my alignment was so out of whack, that getting it back in whack took some doing. Midway through the session, I was pretty sure my head was going to explode because my tension headache had tripled in intensity. Then something miraculous happened.
My tension headache went away.
If you have ever had a tension headache, you know Advil will hardly touch it. So the fact that it was suddenly gone was amazing! Immediately following the yoga, I iced two different parts of my back: just below my neck, and my lower back. Ice should be administered as follows: ice pack wrapped in a thin towel, 20 minutes on 20 minutes off.
Ice reduces inflammation and is better than taking Advil or Tylenol. Heck, sometimes I try ice first and see if I need to pop a pill or two but I don't. It's amazing how that natural fix works.
With my tension headache gone, I was able to do something else I love: read.
I went to bed, slept on and off, but for some reason woke relaxed and refreshed. This morning, I didn't quite bounce out of bed, but I didn't lurch (for a change), and I noticed that while my body "hurt" it was more from muscle and stretching than it was from structural damage like I took a hit with a wrecking ball.
So that's my hard sell. Back pain? Stress? Do yoga.
If for no other reason than to calm down or just unplug. It has the same instant effect as a glass of wine, and likely after you're through, you won't want the wine anymore.