Experts estimate that up to 80% of the population will experience back pain at some time in their lives. Back pain can affect people of all ages, from adolescents to the elderly.
The spine is segmented into several presacral vertebrae classified as Cervical or Neck, Thoracic, and Lumbar. It is made up of a series of 33 individual bones that are stacked like blocks on top of each other with pads called discs intervening to help absorb shock/load. The spine or backbone provides the main support to your body, allowing you to stand upright, bend, and twist while protecting the spinal cord from injury. Strong muscles and bones, flexible tendons, and ligaments, and sensitive nerves, contribute to a healthy spine.
Importance of Proper Spinal Curves / Posture
The abdominal and back muscles maintain the spine’s natural curves. Those muscles allow us to flex, or bend forward, and are vital in lifting, and controlling the curve of the lower back. There are various spinal disorders, such as:
- An unusual curve of the lumbar spine is lordosis, also called swayback.
- An unusual curve of the thoracic spine is kyphosis, also called hunchback.
- An unusual curve from side-to-side is called scoliosis.
The side angle of a spine is a natural S-shaped curve that allows a range of movement throughout the spinal column. The neck or cervical and lumbar or lower back areas have a slight concave curve, and the thoracic and sacral areas have a gentle convex curve.
Muscles play a very significant role in maintaining the spine’s natural curve, and good postures help the muscles to do that.
It is very important to have strong muscles, to pull out the spine’s alignment by performing activities regularly such as stand, sit, walk, lie, and avoiding weight-bearing activities.
How to maintain/improve your Spinal Curves / Posture through Yoga
As important it is to have strong muscles to pull out regular activities, it is equally important to maintain the spinal curves and avoiding abnormal spinal curves or bad posture. A Spinal curve stabilizes the muscles and helps attaining the accurate posture while sitting, standing, lying, etc.
Yoga provides strength to your muscles and flexibility to your bones. It involves performing number of postures through movements that leads to stronger bones and helps heal musculoskeletal strains and injuries. It includes postures that stretch, rotate, extend, side bend and strengthen the spine and its surrounding muscles and connective tissue.
It is necessary to train the muscles around your upper spine to be able to support you in backbends, so your body does not naturally drop into the lower spine.
Here are the few Yoga Asanas that will help you to enhance the mobility of the spine:
- Ardha Chandrasana (Crescent Moon): It helps in maintaining the mobility of the middle spine and rib cage.
- Utkanasana (Chair Pose): It helps to strengthen the abdominal muscles and stabilise the torso by extending the spine strongly.
- Salabhasana (Locust Pose): It strengthens the back and core muscles.
- Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (Upward Facing Dog): It strengthens the muscles of the spine, arms and shoulders.
- Ustrasana (Camel Pose): It improves flexibility in your thoracic spine.
- Dhanurasana (Floor Bow): It helps relieving minor back pain while strengthening the back muscles and improving your posture.