The spine is one of the largest and most complex structures of the musculoskeletal system. It is responsible for moving the body, maintaining posture, and protecting the spinal cord. A spinal injury or anatomical abnormality may cause spine pain that affects a patient's ability to perform movements and activities essential for day-to-day living. Patients who are interested in improving or maintaining their spine health may consider yoga a great way to do so.
Yoga is an ancient discipline used to improve physical and mental health. People who participate in yoga perform a variety of physical and mental exercises throughout a 30-60-minute session. When yoga is performed under the supervision of a trained and qualified yoga instructor, it can be extremely beneficial to spine health for the following reasons:
Yoga Strengthens the Muscles and Soft Tissues of the Spine
During yoga, a series of poses are performed to strengthen muscle groups that support the spine, including the following:
- The abdominals - A group of muscles located on the front part of the body between the ribs and pelvis. The abdominals are important to spine health because they support the trunk.
- The lower back muscles - A large group of muscles that support the lumbar (lower) region of the spine and help move, twist, and bend the trunk.
- The upper back muscles - Muscles that promote and maintain an upright and erect posture and enable various upper body movements
- The neck muscles - Muscles that support and move the neck and skull.
Yoga poses are unique because they are a form of isometric exercise. Contrary to dynamic exercises in which the body moves, isometric exercises are performed by contracting muscle groups while holding the body in a static position. Isometric exercises are beneficial because they are generally easier and safer to perform.
Yoga Stretches the Muscles and Soft Tissues of the Spine
Yoga poses also involve stretching. Typically, muscle groups are stretched for ten to sixty seconds while a pose is held. The benefits of stretching include the following:
- Increased range of motion
- Increased blood flow to muscles
- Improved ability to remove toxins from muscles
- Decreased pain and inflammation
Additionally, stretching promotes muscle relaxation and a general feeling of physical and mental wellness.
Yoga Teaches Awareness and Relaxation Techniques
Breathing and meditation exercises that are performed during yoga sessions teach patients how to become aware of their posture. This is important to spine health because it allows patients to easily recognize and fix posture problems. Additionally, it teaches patients how to recognize and reduce pain by relaxing the mind and body.
How to Get Started
Patients interested in starting a yoga program for spine health are encouraged to find a specialized yoga instructor. Patients who have a pre-existing spine condition that may limit their ability to perform yoga should be seen by an orthopedic specialist before starting a program. Additionally, patients who are concerned about their overall spine health should also be seen to determine if yoga is right for them. To arrange an appointment with one of our spine specialists, please feel free to contact our office.