Today, I wanted to share the story of how I overcame my lower back pain. About eleven years ago, when I was fifteen years old, I would experience pain in the lumbar spine even from laying on my stomach reading a book. I couldn’t walk for long on concrete without having to sit down and rest my back, even if I was wearing good shoes. To go shopping with my friends would be to much for my back. Did I believe I would ever be doing poses like wheel pose? No.
Before I started doing yoga, all the flexibility in back extension positions was in the lowest vertebras of my spine. That means that some few vertebras had to take all the pressure when I was walking. In forward bending my back was even tighter. I had no flexibility at all and also an anterior pelvic tilt, due to tight psoas muscles that pulled on the spine. Ironically, the key to opening tight psoas muscles lies in back extending positions. When you engage the glutes the psoases opens. I have found that wheel pose is one of the most effective ways to open the psoas. But wheel pose is nowhere to start if you experience pain just from laying on your stomach.
For me the pain when externally bending slowly faded, after doing lots of yoga. I didn’t really think so much about what I did to relieve the pain. I was thinking more about avoiding it: not doing the things that caused it. After some years of practicing, the pain faded by itself. I was gaining core stability, which I think made a huge difference. I was practicing basic yoga for many years which included sun salutations and warrior poses. To be more specific, I think stabilizing poses, mild extending poses like warrior one, and lengthening poses like downward facing dog is really healthy for lower back pain. To be evenly flexible through the spine takes the pressure off the lowest joints. After some years, I was able to progress into deeper backbends.
I remember the first time I did wheel pose. It felt like my arms straighten all by them selves. I felt disoriented by being inverted. Today, back bends are the poses I feel the most confident in doing. They feel great for my body as they help open the chest along with the psoases and strengthens the legs and glutes.
Whenever I feel like a pose is never going to happen for me, I remind myself of where I started. It has been a journey since then. Nowadays I practice inverted staff pose and drop backs.