Years ago, I remember doing the dishes by hand, only to end up on the floor. My back always hurt, resulting in the need to lie down, stretch and twist. I thought that this was just the way things were going to be, due to modern living and housework. Yet yogic awareness… present moment attention, understanding of body alignment and a simple exercise for lower back pain has set me right, to this day.
Lower back pain may surface for different reasons. It could be due to improper use of the body, an old injury, or an attitude (check out Louis Hay’s book: You Can Heal Your Life to discover the emotional connections to dis-ease). A combination of these may also be the root cause.
So what is it that I realized? That I always leaned forward, resting my hips against the counter top while washing the dishes. That I was just being lazy and not using the strength of my abdomen and my back to hold myself up. I was over stretching the front of the hips and crunching my lower back, which was causing the pain.
So, as an experiment, I stopped leaning against the counter. I pulled my hips back a few inches. As simple as this sounds it really is about all it took to cure my lower back pain; one little adjustment to a task that I do everyday. Of course it also required that I remember to do this because the other way of standing was such a habit.
I began to realize that I also hold myself in this same position while just standing, so I had to adjust that too. I have found that most people who suffer from low back pain also have a tendency to stand with the hips pushed forward as well as the habit of sitting hunched over with a rounded back. Ideally, we want to stand so that our center of gravity moves down the legs and comes out just in front of the heel, yet keep the curve in the lower back (the lumbar curve).
So here is a simple standing exercise for lower back pain: with the feet parallel and hip distance apart, pull the top of the thigh bones back, so that the top of the thigh bones are over the knees and ankles; put a little arch in your lower back and lift your heart. For most people this is all is takes to alleviate lower back pain.
The sacrum is a small triangular shaped bone (with the point facing down) at the bottom of the spine. To keep the lumbar curve, draw the top of the sacrum in, if it ever feels like too much scoop the bottom of the tailbone down to counterbalance until you feel just the right amount of curve. Just remember to take the top of the thighbones back before adjusting the sacrum.
This exercise for lower back pain can be modified for sitting in a chair (while working at a desk, eating dinner, driving etc…) While sitting, push your inner thighs and the top of your thighbones into the seat. This will naturally put a curve back in your lumbar spine and lift your heart. Keep that. If it ever feels like too much in the lower back scoop the tailbone down to find just the right amount of tilt. This will also engage your abdomen slightly helping to build strength and tone there.
We do many activities and tasks throughout the course of a day. We can be unconscious about it with the possibility of causing harm, or we can bring present moment awareness to our actions while increasing the probability of greater health, vitality and enjoyment. The choice is ours in every moment. All we have to do is begin again, now, and pay attention.
Do you experience lower back pain? Do you find yourself standing with the hips pushed forward or leaning against counters frequently? Try this simple exercise for lower back pain and let me know if it works for you.