You probably know that yoga can help reduce anxiety, relieve stress, burn fat, and build muscle. But many people don’t realize that yoga can also help to ease pain, promote healing, and even soothe pinched nerves. Back pain is the number one reason that people under 45 experience temporary disability. While not every kind of back pain is caused by a pinched nerve, it is a fairly common occurrence that regular yoga can help. So, we’ve got some effective yoga poses to soothe this pain.

Pinched Nerve

The most commonly pinched nerve in the back is called the sciatic nerve. If you have sciatica, it may not present as just back pain. Since a sciatic nerve runs down from your low back, through your glutes, and into your thigh, it’s common to have pain in some or all of these places.

A pinched sciatic nerve is usually not the result of something serious, but rather a misalignment in the back that a combination of yoga and time can heal.

A Note About Pain and Yoga

When you push yourself in yoga, it can often cause some discomfort. Deep stretches can be difficult and some yoga poses get your muscles burning. However, you should never experience pain when doing yoga — especially when trying to get over an injury or strain. If you do experience pain during any of the following yoga poses, we advise that you stop and try something that feels good for you.

You can also try other natural pain relief methods for a pinched nerve that may help. While most back pain goes away with a little help, you may consider seeing a chiropractor or other physician if you experience prolonged or intense pain.

Cobra Pose

This one feels great on the low back and doesn’t require much effort to perform. 

  • Lie down on your stomach on a yoga mat or carpeted area. 
  • Bring your hands up next to your shoulders, palms to the floor. 
  • Pull your elbows toward your body and push against the floor with your hands to raise your upper body as you inhale. 
  • Raise up as far as you can without lifting your hips or legs off the floor. Look straight ahead and pull your shoulder blades together to open your chest. 
  • Hold for 15 to 45 seconds. 
  • Release. 
  • Repeat 3 to 5 times.

Downward-Facing Dog

An essential pose in nearly any yoga routine, this is a great full-body stretch that can help to relieve pain from a pinched nerve. 

  • Start by lying on your stomach with your hands slightly above your shoulders and your toes to the floor as if you’re in the bottom of a push-up. 
  • Push off with your hands while you raise your hips into the air, keeping your feet in place.
  • Create an inverted V with your body, arms and legs straight and feeling the stretch. 
  • You can push back through your hands, urging your hips back behind you. You’ll feel this stretch most through your hamstrings. 
  • It takes significant flexibility to touch your heels to the floor, so just stretch as much as is comfortable for you. 
  • Hold for 30 to 60 seconds. 
  • Release back to starting position.
  • Repeat 5 times. 
  • (Optional: you can bend alternating knees while in Downward Dog to get a bit of a deeper stretch in the other leg.)

Locust Pose

This pose is a little more challenging than some of the others. It strengthens your back and promotes flexibility. 

  • Begin lying on your stomach with your legs together and your arms at your sides. 
  • Lift your chest, legs, arms, and head as high as you can. Keep your legs together and your arms as near your sides. Your glutes, back, and abs all work together on this one. 
  • Hold the pose for 5 to 10 seconds and release. 
  • Repeat 5 to 10 times. 
  • (Optional: If you have trouble lifting your legs at the same time, you can try without your legs or with only one leg at a time.)

Child’s Pose

A very relaxing yoga pose, this one helps you stretch your spine which can help relieve a pinched nerve in the back. 

  • Begin on your hands and knees, with your feet together but your knees apart. 
  • Sink your hips back onto your feet, keeping your hands to the floor and allowing your arms to stretch out in front of you. 
  • When your hips are resting on your feet and your knees are a comfortable length apart, you can put your forehead to the floor and hold the pose for 30 to 60 seconds. 
  • Return to starting position.
  • Repeat 3 to 5 times. 

Bridge Pose

The bridge pose is great for strengthening your glutes, back, and ab muscles.

  • Begin lying on your back with your knees bent, feet on the floor, and arms comfortably at your sides.
  • Engaging your glutes, abs, thighs, and back, raise your hips up so that they are in line with your abdomen and thighs. Keep your upper back, shoulders, and head on the floor. 
  • Hold this position for 30 to 45 seconds. 
  • Release slowly back down, letting your vertebrae touch down one at a time. 
  • Repeat 5 to 10 times. 

Resources:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6392183/

https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/16869-chronic-back-pain

https://www.healthline.com/health/yoga-for-sciatica#bridge-pose

 

Post by Dr. Brent Wells, D.C. He founded Better Health Chiropractic & Physical Rehab and has been a chiropractor for over 20 years. His chiropractic practice in Anchorage has received great reviews and top ratings from thousands of patients who received long-lasting relief through chiropractic care, physical rehab therapy, and massage therapy. He is a proud member of the American Chiropractic Association and the American Academy of Spine Physicians. And he continues his education to remain active and updated in all studies related to neurology, physical rehab, biomechanics, spine conditions, brain injury trauma, and more.

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