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5 Effective Yoga Exercises For Lower Back Pain

5 Effective Yoga Exercises For Lower Back Pain

Lower back pain is something many individuals deal with on a daily basis while others may just suffer occasionally from lower back pain. Whatever the case, there is one style of exercising that can dramatically help with lower back pain provided it’s done with correct form.

So, what is it? Yoga! There are many yoga poses that can help with lower back pain, but there are a few that are more effective than others. When doing yoga poses for lower back pain, be mindful to keep your back strong and in proper alignment.

As always, you should also listen to your body and not push it to the point of pain no matter what kind of exercises you’re doing. However, after a long day or injury, this exercise for lower back pain can help you feel better quickly when done correctly and mindfully!

Exercises for Lower Back Pain:

1. Extended Triangle

This pose is my personal favorite exercise for lower back pain. It’s wonderful if you have tightness and need to improve your flexibility.

    Yoga Journal

    Extended triangle pose is quite easy to perform and is mostly self-explanatory. Start out by putting one leg in front of the other and then twisting to the side, reaching your right (or left) hand down to the corresponding foot. Focus on keeping your lower back strong and straight, and look up at your opposite hand for the best flexibility effects.

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    Hold this pose for at least 30 seconds, and then slowly stand up while keeping your back straight. Then do the exercise on the opposite side.

    2. Cat Pose

    Cat pose (also referred to as cat cow pose) can dramatically help you stretch out your back and core. It mimics the way a cat curls and arches its back, going back and forth in between both ranges of motion. You want to arch your back and then curl it under keeping your posture intact, not putting too much pressure on your spine.

      Yoga Journal

      To do the pose, start on your hands and knees in a tabletop position. Make sure your shoulders and hands are in alignment with one another and also be sure that your hips and knees are in alignment with one another. Move your back up and down, arching it up and down (gently) for 30 seconds or so. Focus on keeping your core tight during this so you don’t pull anything.

      3. Bridge Pose

      Bridge pose is great for strengthening the overall core, back, and even toning your hamstrings and buttocks. You can choose to do this exercise exactly how it appears without moving, or you can practice lowering up and down between the ground and the final position.

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        Yoga Journal

        To do the pose, lie down on the floor with your knees bent. Keep your heels as close to your buttocks as possible, but also not curved up under you too much. Place your hands by your side, and gently start to lift your buttocks and hips upward at one time. Hold for 30 seconds, and then lower back down to starting position. Do this exercise 10-15 times or so.

        4. Half Lord of the Fishes

        Half Lord of the Fishes sounds fancy, but it’s really simple to perform in all actuality. The main thing to focus on during this position is to keep your back straight the entire time as you twist to one side and then switch positions twisting to the other. Half Lord of the Fishes will help you stretch your back while also tone your core.

          Yoga Journal

          To do this exercise, start with sitting on the floor with your feet and knees crossed in front of you. Then lower one knee up to the opposite side (as shown), and place your opposite hand on top of that knee. Start turning to the side to twist, and twist as far back as feels comfortable to you. You should feel a nice stretch, not a harsh pull.

          5. Upward Facing Down and Downward Facing Dog

          I’ve paired these two exercises together, because even though they are technically two separate exercises, you’ll get a much better stretch and range of motion if they are done together in a sequence. Just remember to keep your back strong while doing these exercises and be mindful of how your body feels when doing them so you don’t pull anything.

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          Step 1:

            Yoga Journal

            In Downward Facing Dog, start standing up straight, and then lower your hands down like you were going to touch your toes, but bend forward in a straight manner with your back as you do so. Place your hands on the floor, out in front of you and let your feet stretch out on the floor behind you (as shown) while your body resembles that of an upside down triangle. (It may help to use a mirror to help you check your form the first few times you try this pose.) Focus on how your back feels the entire time you do this pose, and hold for 30 seconds.

            Step 2:

              Yoga Journal

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              Now, you’ll move down to Downward Facing Dog to get a full range of motion with this exercise. As you lower your hips down, your feet will extend backward and your core will help support you. Your hands will only come back a little bit. Picture your body like it’s a rubberband expanding and contracting in between both movements. When done correctly, this entire sequence can help relieve lower back pain fairly quickly.

              There are many other kinds of exercise for lower back pain such as lifting weights, walking, and basic stretching; I just find yoga the most helpful for improving long-term flexibility and keeping my body pain-free on a regular basis. Yoga poses for lower back pain can also be wonderful tools if you work a desk job and need to do a few poses when you get home to help assist with the effects of sitting all day, and they’re especially useful during travel if you can’t access a gym for a regular workout.

              Exercise for Lower Back Pain

                See more beneficial yoga exercises for a healthy body here, and if you’d like additional information on yoga poses such as these above, you can also check out Yoga Journal’s resources. And remember, there’s no need to neglect your back when there are plenty of wonderful options when it comes to finding the right exercise for lower back pain that best suits you!

                Featured photo credit: Dave Rosemblum/Flickr via flic.kr

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                Published on August 16, 2019

                15 Strength Training Exercises Specifically for Runners

                15 Strength Training Exercises Specifically for Runners

                When you choose the right exercises, and make strength training a priority, it will have a great payoff to improve your running. Studies have shown incorporating a strength training program to your running routine improves running economy.[1]

                Here are 15 strength training exercises specifically for runners.

                1. Planks

                The plank is a very important core exercise that will help give you more control and balance while running. Having a strong core will also keep you more stable and in control if you have to navigate uneven surfaces.

                The plank is a simple exercise and involved balancing on your forearms and the tips of your toes, so that your back is “straight as a plank”. You want to focus on keeping your abs tight and imagine sucking your belly button up into your spine to have them properly engaged.

                Aim for 30 to 45 seconds for a few rounds. Ultimately, you want to hold them as long as you can with proper form – so every time you perform a plank you want to go a little longer than previous ones.

                2. Side Planks

                The same concept is applied but you are now engaging your core in a different manner and engaging your oblique muscles too. This time, you are going to lie on your side with your legs stacked on top of each other.

                You will lean on your right forearm and lift your hips off the ground keeping your head lined up with your torso and ankles. Keep your other hand on your hip to help ,and control balance, and focus on not moving or swaying. Keep your abs tight to engage them and hold for 30-45 seconds, or longer if you can.

                3. Clamshells

                For this exercise, you are going to need a simple resistance band. Start with the band wrapped around both legs just below the knee. Your starting position will be on the ground lying on your side with your top hip and shoulder pointing towards the ceiling. Your hips will be on the ground, keep your back straight and your feet together, and lift up with your top knee as far as you can with the resistance.

                Pause for a second at the top and lower back down under control. You can do 10 reps on this side before switching over and doing another 10 reps and aim for 2 to 3 sets.

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                Clamshells are going to help strengthen your abductor muscles giving you stronger hips and more stability while running.

                4. Single-Leg Bridge

                You will start lying on your back with your feet on the ground, shoulder-width apart with knees bent. You will straighten out one leg so it’s out in front of you in the air and lift your body up by pushing with the leg on the ground.

                You want to flex your abs and glutes while pushing upward and try to keep your hips level throughout the motion before returning to the ground. You can also hold your body in the upright position for 5-10 seconds before returning to the ground to get more engagement before switching over to the other leg.

                The single-leg bridge will help strengthen your glutes which are crucial for running power and stride strength.

                5. Standing Calf Raises

                This is a simple exercise but one that is very important for strengthening the calves. The stronger they are, the less fatigue you will experience during running. You will need to find an elevated step or platform for this exercise.

                Stand on the platform with your heels hanging off the edge. Find something stable to hold on to for balance and start by lower your heels down until you feel a stretch in the back of your calves. Then, stand upwards like you are trying to see over a fence. Perform 3 sets of 10 repetitions.

                6. Arch Lifting

                You will start out standing with your feet directly under your hips, and this is best done without shoes. You will rotate the arch of your foot upward while keeping your toes and heels in contact with the ground.

                Don’t let your toes tighten and you want to hold for a few seconds at the top before returning to the ground. You can do 3 sets of 10 repetitions and this is going to help strengthen the arches of your feet.

                The stronger your arches are the better it is to keep your running stride strong and prevent less fatigue in the feet.

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                7. Half-Kneel Hip Flexor Stretch

                Strong hips are paramount for running and the hip flexors can easily become strained and overused. This exercise will help to strengthen them and provide more power and stability while running. You will start kneeling with one foot forward and the other knee bent underneath the hip.

                Keep your abs tight, your back straight, and shift your body weight forward until you feel a stretch in the front of your hips. Hold this for 20 to 30 seconds before switching over to the other leg.

                8. Alternating Lunges

                These are going to develop power and strength in your quads and glutes to help give you a more powerful stride. You will start standing with your hands on your hips looking straight out in front of you.

                Step forward with your right leg and lower down just before your opposite knee touches the ground. Then, push through your heel to return to the standing position before performing the lunge with your left leg. Alternate between the right and left leg so that each one has done 10 reps and you can perform 3 sets of this.

                9. Jump Squats

                These can be done just with your bodyweight and help to develop explosive power in the lower body. The jump squat is handy for when you have to run hills and need more power for harder stretches of your run.

                The best way is to start in a squat position with your feet shoulder-width apart. You will drive through the heels of your feet and explode upwards. As your bodyweight brings you back to the ground, control your weight as you go back into the squat position to fully engage the muscles.

                Make sure not to let your knees move inwards and keep your abs tight, your head up, and your chest out. Aim for 3 sets of 10 reps.

                10. Skater Hops

                This will help to build leg and core strength, along with improving balance. You will start standing upright but then bending the knees slight like you’re about to sit down. You will then drive off your right foot, jumping a few feet out to the left.

                You will land on your left foot while your right foot swings behind your left leg. Then, drive off the left foot using the momentum of your right foot swinging back to land back on it. You will keep doing these side hops for ten times each leg and the motion should look like a speed skater shifting side to side.

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                11. Bulgarian Split Squat

                This will be similar to the lunges but, will really ramp up the resistance for the quads and is a great strength training exercise for runners. You are going to need an elevated surface or bench to stand in front of. The starting position will be standing upright with your head up and hands on your hips.

                Start with your right foot behind you supported by the bench. You will start by lowering your hips to drops your left leg down to around a 90-degree angle, stopping just before your right knee hits the ground.

                Next, push up through the heel until you are back at the starting position and perform ten reps, under control, before you switch over to the right leg. Perform 3 sets of this.

                To make this even tougher, you can hold dumbbells in your hands hanging at your sides.

                12. Arabesque

                These will help in activating and controlling your hips. You will start off by standing on one leg, hands on your hips, and making sure your hips are level and balanced. You can then put your arms out to the side to give you more balance.

                Start by tipping your torso forward as your non-weight-bearing leg extends out behind you. You can slightly bend your knee to help with control and you want to have your back and extended leg as level as possible. You should end up basically parallel to the floor with your shoulder, hip, and ankle should be in a straight line.

                When you’ve gone as far forward as you can, return to the starting position and perform 8 repetitions before switching to the other leg.

                Perform 2 to 3 sets. These are all about quality over quantity so if you can only do 4 or 5, that’s fine.

                13. Hip Bridge

                This is another great exercise to target the glutes which are the source of your running power. Start by lying on the ground with your feet flat on the ground and your knees bent. Squeeze your glutes and then lift your hips up towards the ceiling.

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                Your hips, knees, and shoulders should be in a straight line. Hold at the top for a second and then lower back down under control. Perform this 12 times and then, you can do 3 sets. If these get easier, you can hold a weight across your stomach for more resistance.

                14. Push-Ups

                A classic exercise, and for good reason. As much as you want to focus your strength training on the lower body, you can’t neglect your upper body. Your arms are helping drive and propel you while running and a strong upper body helps with your overall balance and stability.

                You can start laying facedown on the ground with your palms facing downwards and elbows tucked into your sides. Focus on pushing through the heel of your palms upward, stopping just before your elbows lock out. Lower back down under control and stop just before your chest touches the ground.

                Focus on keeping the elbows tucked into your side and avoid having them flail outwards. You can perform 10 reps for 3 sets of these.

                15. Squat to Overhead Press

                This is a full-body motion that works a majority of muscles, builds power, explosiveness, and coordination. You will need two dumbbells and you will start standing, feet shoulder-width apart, with the dumbbells, held up by your shoulders – palms facing forward.

                Send your hips back and lower down into a squat until your thighs are parallel to the floor. As you stand up, press the dumbbells overhead and return them to the starting position. Go for 10 reps and three sets.

                The Bottom Line

                As much as you’d like to, you can’t be running all the time. It can lead to overuse, injuries and burnout. The perfect way to offset this is with strength training, making sure you perform your training with proper form and technique, avoiding mistakes which can lead to injury.

                There are many other strength exercises such as the deadlift, which works the back and leg muscles which are vital for running economy improvement and injury prevention.[2] These exercises will make you a more efficient and resilient runner allowing you to improve your distances and times.

                Even if you’ve been against strength training for runners, you can see now how it’s necessary in order to improve your overall running ability and performance.

                Featured photo credit: Stage 7 Photography via unsplash.com

                Reference

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