10 Yoga (Ish) Poses For Back Pain
Updated: Apr 3, 2022
Did you know that among the tons of benefits of yoga, it can alleviate allergy symptoms?
I definitely didn't, and as the pollen continues to rage war against my sinuses for the 27th year in a row, there are not a lot of things I wouldn't try to get it to stop.
But I'm not writing this post to complain about my allergy pains.
I am, however, writing this post to complain about my back pains.
After a brief stint with a yoga routine one time, the amount of time I spent doing anything yoga-related slowly decreased to nothing while I focused on other aspects of my fitness training.
But keeping up with body maintenance routines is so important. It keeps things moving holistically and even prevents injuries from happening.
It's not always the easiest to do daily mobility routines—you know, life gets in the way. So I try to keep it simple and build routines that I stick to and become habits.
I encourage you to do that too, so here are 10 crazy simple movements inspired by actual yoga that help with back pain and general mobility. They're great to add to a running warm up too!
Why Daily Mobility?
When it comes to daily mobility, we often forget, make excuses, or don't see the benefits right away and stop caring to do it.
But it doesn't matter if you're an elite athlete or someone with a 9-5 desk job, regular stretching and mobility exercises can (and should) be a part of your routine.
Making time for intentional movement:
increases athletic performance
improves joint movement and muscular function
decreases stress levels
And if you feel better, you do things better!
However, after a long day of work, taking valuable free time to configure yourself into some distorted pose could be the very last thing you want to do.
...if you even remember to do it, that is.
I had a run-in with lower back pain and sciatic nerve pain when I started spending more time at a desk while also working out really hard on most days of the week.
If you don't know, the sciatic nerve runs from the lower back through the butt and all the way down each leg. So when the pain was radiating through the entire nerve, my whole leg was bothering me.
It's a very annoying, tingly type of pain.
So I had to do something about it and what I ended up doing is developing a routine that helps keep my
whole body really 💁♀️
So without further ado, the yoga-inspired exercises that help you feel and perform better in just a few minutes each week.
1) Low Lunge with Knee to Ground
You should really feel this on in the hips. The stretch may also extend down the quad of the lower leg. Hold for a great stretch, but make it dynamic if it's pre-workout by rocking back and forth.
2) Low Lunge with Knee Raised
This is just like the position above, but with the back knee lifted up (by straightening back leg). Hold this for a few seconds for a great stretch. Breathe in and reach up, trying to stay calm and relaxed.
3) Low Hip Opener
From a raised plank position, bring one knee up to your chest and place the foot outside of your hands. Hold!
You can also make this a dynamic movement for pre-workout, which is great for bonus spine mobility. Do this by reaching up towards the sky with inside arm. Bring it back down and repeat.
4) Seated Figure 4
This feels so great on the glutes and hips!
Stay seated and cross your right leg by placing right ankle on left knee. Hold or make it dynamic by swinging the knee back and forth for a dynamic mobility movement. (The knee of the down leg goes out to the outside and back up.)
You might want to refer to the YouTube video at the top of this post for this one.
5) Cat Cow
The position pictured is the cat pose, start here and hold for 2-3 second. To rotate to the cow position, maintain the same body position but arch back the other way.
Rotate between the two breathing slowly. Breathe in on cat and slowly exhale as you arch into cow.
6) Cat Cobra
Another dynamic movement that starts with cat position pictured above. To get to the cobra position (pictured below), drop your hips and come forward pushing up on your arms as you arch.
Again, breathe in on cat and release breathe slowly until fully exhaled at the end of the cobra.
7) Quad-Hip Flexor
From a kneeling position, lean forward. Focus on keeping pelvis straight ahead. Don't push far just for the stretch if it sacrifices proper form. Hips need to be evenly forward to get the correct spot.
Arm can be up or down, but reach up to lengthen through your fingertips for a deeper stretch.
This can be a held stretch or made dynamic by rocking back and forth.
Another way to intensify the stretch is to pull on the back leg's ankle and rock back and forth. You'll really feel that one!
Remember when I said not all mobility movements seem obvious at first? Some people feel this one more than others, but if you don't "feel anything," it's still a good one to do for movement.
Keeping knees at a 90-degree angle, rotate purposefully trying to keep butt on the floor. Do 10-12 reps at a time.
9) Kneeling T-Spine Rotators
This is a great way to warm up your spine before a run. From your knees, keep one hand down on the ground and put the other bent behind your head.
Really reach up by roating towards the up arm. Bring the arm back down to complete the move.
Keep your back from arching as you rotate for the proper form.
10) Reclined Cow
This one is an unassumingly amazing stretch! Lay on your back and bring your knees to your chest. Here's the twist (literally): cross your legs and pull on the knees.
You should feel it in your glutes and probably your hips. Hold for a few seconds and release for a dynamic movement, but you can also hold for a while for a longer stretch.
Make sure you swap which leg is on top and do the other side!
I also like to do this one sitting up, legs crossed, leaning forward.
Back And Hip Health
Simple mobility movements can have a dramtic effect on the rest of your well-being!
I do these becuase they help me be a better runner. They keep my back and hips happy so that I can give my all to workouts.
But these exercises are important for anyone. We all do things that might throw our back or hips out of alignment—like sitting weirdly at a desk all day for example.
Not only does it make it harder to physically do things when these fundamentals are out of whack, but it can make your mood decrease too.
Being uncomfortable throughout the workday—no matter what your work day looks like—can be a major buzz kill and make it harder to be positive and productive.
If you feel like this is a problem for you, I hope that these exercises help! Add them to a weekly routine, or even do them every morning. Find out what works best for you.
Have any great movements that make your life easier? Leave a comment below and share what you do.
I'm not a certified yoga instructor or fitness trainer. Read my disclaimer for more.