If you are suffering from back pain, it may probably be a herniated disc issue. But, don’t worry! There are certain yoga poses to relieve herniated disc pain and strengthen your back. Wondering what those asanas are and how to practice them?
In this article, we look at what herniated disc is, three yoga poses that target your back and offer you relief, and the precautions you must consider while doing them. Scroll on!
Herniated Disc – A Brief:
Herniated disc can be a very painful condition. It occurs when the discs placed between your vertebrae tear, and the interior of the disc protrudes. This pressurizes the adjacent nerves. In simpler terms, when the intervertebral discs become compressed and begin to bulge outward (herniation) or in certain cases rupture, it causes severe lower back pain (1).
When you are afflicted with this painful condition, both the legs and back are affected. The pain gets aggravated by movements and intensity can vary from one person to another. As it is, herniated disc may occur in any part of your spine, but the lumbar spine gets affected in most instances.
Causes Of Herniated Disc:
The main causes are:
- Degeneration of the spine with age, wear and tear.
- Accident and resultant injury.
- Sports related injuries.
- Sedentary Lifestyle
Treatment Options For Herniated Disc:
There are several treatment options that doctors suggest for treating this condition. Non-surgical procedures are attempted first. Pain medications are given, and changes in diet are also advised. Exercises and yoga poses can bring significant relief from the pain, as it has been seen. Surgery is attempted as the last option. Only one out of ten are suggested surgery, and this is done when they do not see any improvement even post a whole month’s treatment (2).
NSAIDs are often applied to reduce pain as are ice packs. Experts today also recommend yoga to strengthen the back. This form of exercise not only helps strengthen the back, but is also a great way to stretch and keep your back flexible (3). Please note that the yoga asanas or exercises are very specific to the type of condition. For instance, applications of yoga asanas in case of spondylolisthesis is completely different from spondylosis. Please understand your specific condition and co-relate it to the asanas provided below.
Experimental treatment options such as endoscopic discectomy and electrothermal disc decompression may also be suggested to certain patients (4). But we strongly recommend that you take a second opinion before resorting to such treatment plans, that may at times do more harm than good.
Why Opt For Yoga To Get Relief From Herniated Disc?
Is yoga good for herniated disc? Specific yoga poses, when performed under care and expert supervision, can bring victims of Herniated disc effective relief from the excruciating pain. Several yoga experts like B.K.S. Iyengar have recommended some special yoga poses for patients with this condition.
Studies also suggest that those suffering from a herniated disc will benefit greatly from simple movements that emphasise the extension of the bones (5). Like you already know, yoga has a number of stretching exercises that are bound to give herniated disc patients immense relief from acute pain while at the same time help strengthen the bones in the back.
Yoga For Herniated Disc:
There are quite a few yoga poses for herniated disc patients that can bring relief from this medical condition. These are Seated Forward Bend, Locust Pose, Cobra Pose, Bridge and Camel Pose. A few inverted yoga poses like Forearm Stand and Shoulder Stand can also be good for the patients.
1. Camel Pose:
- To get into the camel pose, kneel on the floor and then keep both hands on your hips.
- The top part of your feet should be on the mat. Now, lengthen your spine.
- Slowly bend backwards while placing both hands on your heels.
- Stretch out your neck and bend the head backwards.
- Next, slide both hands to the soles.
- Stay in this posture for a few seconds.
2. Locust Pose:
This pose helps stimulate blood circulation and enhances flexibility.
- At first, lie on the floor on your belly. Use a soft padding if required.
- Your arms should be stretched along the body. Rest your forehead and face on the floor.
- As you breathe in, lift your chest, head, legs and arms off the ground.
- Ensure your legs are straight and arms remain flat on the sides.
- Next, spread your toes and fingers. Focus on inhaling.
- Stay in this pose for a few seconds.
3. Cobra Pose:
- Lie on the floor with both palms flat and kept beneath your shoulders.
- The feet tops need to be flat on the floor.
- Then engage your abs by drawing the belly button inwards and tilting your pelvis section.
- Now, press your palms and spread the fingers.
- Pull the shoulders back engaging the shoulder blades too.
- Push your body’s upper torso off the surface and keep your arms straightened.
- Your feet, hips and legs need to be planted firmly on the floor.
- Tilt your chin upwards and lift the chest.
- Remain in this pose for a few seconds.
How To Use The Yoga Poses For Pain Relief:
The backward bending yoga poses help in strengthening your posterior ligaments as well as muscles that keep the damaged disc in its position. Regular practice of such yoga poses aid in making the spine stable and fit. Initially, lift off only half way and then as the spine allows, move into the full posture after a few weeks of practice.
To get relief from acute pain caused by the disc, asanas like makarasana and matsyakridasana can be tried. You can try them on a bed. They can relieve the pressure on damaged nerve roots. As the pain reduces, you can switch to the backward bending yoga poses, say the experts. When the pain is less, you can start doing Bhujangasana or Cobra pose. After some time, you can also try yoga poses like Ardha shalabhasana, Poorna shalabhasana and Dhanurasana. After practising the poses, you need to rest in shavasana. Ideally, you should practice these poses in the morning.
After you are diagnosed with a herniated disc, you can begin with easy yoga poses like those mentioned above. Contrary to the above, some spinal conditions like the facet atrophy demands forward extensions and deeper backbends need to be avoided. Similarly, you should refrain from trying cross-legged sitting postures as they can lead to pressure on the nerve root.
You should stick to the recommended yoga poses and safer exercises during the recovery period. A trained and veteran physical therapist can aid you in mastering the proper exercise technique. You can also resort to DIY, yoga lessons and video tutorials for this purpose. While the safer yoga poses are not likely to cause any problem, if you feel the pain is being aggravated by a pose, stop doing it.
Herniated disc causes severe pain in the lower back and can hamper the free movement of the body. You can certainly take to yoga poses to relieve herniated disc pain instead of going for a surgical process. If performed under expert supervision, the poses like seated forward bend, locust pose, cobra pose, and camel pose can help keep damaged disks in position and make the spine fit. Besides, these poses can also enhance blood circulation, strengthen shoulders, stretch muscles in the front torso, etc. Do these asanas in the morning on an empty stomach for effective results.