Back pain relief yoga and types of vertebrae

(September 5, 2010)

I have slipped disc for last 10 yrs. What I want to know is whether I can do yoga for back pain relief and fast walking/slow jogging for exercising together?

Back pain is one of the most common health problems. It can occur as a consequence of several factors. Some of the common back pain causes include muscle strain which usually occurs due to over-stretching or tearing of the muscles, ligaments or tendons. Herniated discs are also a cause of back pain as they push against the nerve root and result in discomfort. This is also referred to as a slipped disc. Other causes of back pain include obesity, improper sleeping positions and osteoarthritis. Very often the cause of back pain could also be sciatica and yoga can again come in handy. One can obtain back pain relief with yoga and medication. However, one must consult a doctor before performing any yoga postures.
The back is made up of a network of nerves, muscles, tendons, ligaments and bones. The spine consists of 33 segments known as vertebrae. There are 7 neck or cervical vertebrae, 12 middle back or thoracic vertebrae, 5 lower back or lumbar vertebrae, 5 sacral vertebrae, which are at the lowest part of the back, and 4 tailbone or coccygeal vertebrae. The vertebrae are joined by ligaments that connect to the tendons and muscles. Between the vertebrae, there is an intervertebral disc which consists of gel-like matter that is surrounded by elastic fibers. In most cases of back pain that stem from such serious medical conditions it would be wise to consult your doctor and physiotherapist as medical care is essential. Treating back pain with medication and yoga therapy is not uncommon and it is a widely used complimentary treatment.
There are many exercises routines that help in back pain relief and yoga is one of them. Some of the poses that help to reduce back pain are Savasana (Corpse Pose), Marjariasana (Cat Stretch) and Talasana  (Palm Tree Pose). To perform the corpse pose, lie down on your back with the arms at the side, legs relaxed and knees slightly turned outwards. Keep breathing in and out for some time, releasing the tension in the body. For the cat stretch, go down on your hands and knees and keep the back flat. The hands should be aligned with the shoulders and the knees should be directly beneath the hips. Look down at the ground and inhale. Then as you exhale, arch the back upwards and bring your chin down to the chest so that you are looking at your stomach. Keep the tailbone tucked underneath. Hold until comfortable and then release. For the palm tree pose, stand with your weight distributed evenly and your arms at the sides. Raise your arms above the head and interlock the fingers. Then turn the palms outwards facing the ceiling. Place the palms on your head and turn your head slightly upwards. Stretch your arms, rise on your toes and stretch your whole body. Back pain relief with yoga can be achieved through regular practice.

Submitted by A on September 5, 2010 at 01:06

Our spine (vertebral column), together with the ribs and sternum, forms the skeleton of top of the body. The spine comprises around two-fifths of the total height of your body and is made up of a set of bones. They are called vertebrae.

Typically, an adult vertebral column consists of 26 vertebrae. These are:

1. In the neck region – 7 cervical vertebrae

2. In the chest region – 12 thoracic vertebrae

3. Supporting the lower back – 5 lumbar vertebrae  

4. Fused together into one bone called sacrum – 5 sacral vertebrae

5. Fused into one or two bones called coccyx – 4 coccygeal vertebrae

Before fusion of the coccygeal and sacral vertebrae, the total numbers of vertebrae are 33.

When the front and back ligaments of these disks get weakened or injured, the pressure built up in the nucleus pulposus could be big enough to burst the surrounding fibro-cartilage.  If and when this takes place, the nucleus pulposus could stick out posteriorly or into any of the neighboring vertebral bodies. This is what they call a slipped disc.

Yoga Treatment:

First of all, for fast recovery and healing, you require total bed rest for a couple days. Complete spinal immobilization is the best and fastest way to heal yourself. The period of immobilization depends largely on the extent to which the disks have been injured or damaged. In later stages, Yoga therapy can be applied. This promotes faster recovery.

Asanas (Yoga poses), in the initial stages, generally the backward bending ones, prove. Yoga postures help resolve your rigidity and give your joints the flexibility they need, besides correcting bad posture.

Makarasana – Crocodile pose

Asanas you should do at a later (resolving) stage –

• Ardha Chakrasana (Half Moon pose)
• Pawanmuktasana (Wind Relieving pose)
• Ushtrasana (Camel pose)
• Shalabhasana (Locust pose)
• Bhujangasana (Cobra pose) 
• Dhanurasana (Bow pose)
• Supta-Vajrasana (Reclining Warrior pose)
• Tadasana (Palm Tree pose)
• Gomukhasana (Cow face pose)
• Simhasana (Lion pose)
• Matsyasana (Fish pose)
• Viparita Karani (Legs against the wall pose)
• Sarvangasana (Shoulder Stand)

Pranayamas (Breathing exercises)

Breathing exercises, if done correctly, affect our spine in a number of ways. These include changes in the pressure within our chest and abdomen with the movement of our ribs. Exhalation helps relax the muscles.

• Mild Kapalabhatti (Skull cleansing)
• Anuloma-Viloma (Alternate nostril breathing)
• Ujjayi (Ocean breath)
• Brahmari (Bee breath)

Relaxation in Shavasana (Corpse pose) and Breath Meditation –
You need to do as much as possible of these. Relaxation is that a much needed physiologic antidote that will help you de-stress. Breath Meditation techniques will also be enormously helpful in this regard. For instance, while doing breath meditation, imagine that it is actually easy for you to move your muscles, joints and bones. Apart from the above practices Yoga Nidra (Yogic Sleep), if practised regularly will go a long way in helping resolve your problem.

If you exercise carefully and practise your simple routine of exercises, Yoga poses, breathing exercises, relaxation and meditation daily, you will bring your back and neck into shape in no time and become as strong and healthy as you wish.

Submitted by A on February 25, 2009 at 03:29

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