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Yoga and Lower Back Pain

chrisoslcchrisosl Posts: 17
edited 07/17/2015 - 3:17 PM in Lower Back Pain
I have been reading thiis article about yoga and back pain: http://www.spine-health.com/wellness/yoga-pilates-tai-chi/types-yoga

Downward dog and leg stretch are shown.

I read on another site that Sun salutations and downward dog can cause disc herniations. Also straight leg raises can cause herniations.

I guess it is ricky to generalise but are there any specfic yoga poses that IN GENERAL should be welcomed and done (very slowly) and others that IN GENERAL should be avoided, however they are done? By 'IN GENERAL' I mean for specific lower back problems.

Many thanks

I believe this question needs to be discussed both with your doctor(s) and yoga instructors. I have been ok'd to use only 'soft' easy yoga, designed for people with spinal problems. I had to call a number of yoga instructors before I found one that could work with me

Ron DiLauro, Spine-Health System Moderators 07/17/15


  • I'm waiting for a microdiscectomy caused by Yoga
    Unfortunately many many exercises are just not suitable, some depends on how you do them - examples is Uttanasana: if you do it slowly and correctly there is low risk.
    However I did it 3 times a week, and after 8 months it happened. First or later you'll do a pose which is not suitable and because of their complexity it is sometime difficult to evaluate, or you'll just do one wrong.
    I'm paying dearly for that.
    There's plenty of exercises which are safe, but anything that requires torsion or bending of the spine will be risky.
    Something I would avoid at all cost is bridge and wheel. Also if you're actively having prolapse, torsion are not good.

    I had to give it all up, even if I enjoyed it. If you have weaknesses between L3 and S1 it's just too risky.

    Mind you, in those 8 months I got BETTER with the back pain, because the exercises were good, but on one occasion I had sciatica for 3 weeks because of a simple exercise (Supta Virasana, however this could've been due to muscle compression of the sciatic, perhaps piriformis, more than disc bulging), and the second time (likely caused by a deep, folded Salamba Kapotasana) I'm finding myself with a double prolapse, one of which has completely extruded down the canal nearly reaching the next level.

    There's plenty other exercises which are a lot safer, perhaps Pilates ? (I'm not sure).

    Also - I would first focus on getting very strong and lower back muscles before attempting Yoga, as they will help to control movements and support you instead of your spine column getting the hit.
  • Thank you Seatraveller for your long and thoughtful post.

    I find treatment of the back so very very difficult as there is so much conflcting evidence.

    For example, you say: "Something I would avoid at all cost is bridge and wheel." which s exactly the exercise I have been doing as it arcs my back whiich is what I thought was one of the main treatments for a herniated dsc etc.

    I found a youtube video (don't everyone sigh...) dealing with the '3 best exercises for a herniated disc' and I asked them whether lying on your back and drawing a knee to your chest would be a good or bad idea. They said 'bad' - and yet that is also the key exercise advised by a PT to help with my back.

    I have also just been reading about Tension Myositis Syndrome (TMS) - and the books have rave revews which suggest my back problems may be nothing to do with posture, injury, degeneration of dscs, age etc etc...

  • chrisoslcchrisosl Posts: 17
    edited 07/18/2015 - 9:10 PM
    Is it the case that “cat and dog stretch,” tends to overaccentuate the spinal curves – this would be essentially the opposite of axial extension, so would put more stress on my disc protrusions?

    I ask this as this exercise is also listed on this site - and was recommended to me by a PT (but disagreed with by a yoga teacher)
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