Low Back and Sacroiliac Pain in Yoga – Lara Brady, Physiotherapist

Having a sore back is something most of us have dealt with at one point or another, but it should never be the result of a yoga class. Low back pain can feel like a spasm while practicing, or soreness that sneaks up afterwards. The sacroiliac joints are where the sacrum, which the spine sits on top of, and the hip bones meet. When injured, it feels like pain just under the dimples where the low back meets the buttock.

Deep forward bending and twisting are the culprits in poses like Paschimottanasana (seated forward bend) or Ardha Matsyendrasana (half lord of the fishes pose). If tight hips or hamstrings prevent much forward bending, more of that action will be left for the low back to perform, causing high forces repeatedly compressing the front of the vertebrae and strain to the musculature and ligaments around the spine and sacroiliac joints. When adding twists to any pose, use these same principles to prevent shearing through the vertebrae or the sacroiliac joints:

  • Keep the lower belly gently toned while bending forward or twisting to add some stability.
  • To prepare, reach the spine tall and maintain a slight concave curve in the low back. If you can’t sit tall without your pelvis rocking backwards and rounding through your low back sit up on a cushion or block.
  • As you come forward or twist, imagine you are reaching up through the crown of the head to keep the spine long.
  • Do not collapse in any one place. Ideally, the spine should have a gentle even curve forward. Allow the low back to loose its concave curve as you get closer to reaching your toes.

Check out my other tips to avoid yoga injuries. Namaste!

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