According to the CDC, more than one-third of Americans experience back pain every year, some chronically. That makes back pain one of the most frequent reasons people seek health care. Being a musculoskeletal condition, it’s highly responsive to exercise over medical intervention for relief so aquatic professionals can play a part in relieving this common problem.
Yoga has been shown to be as effective for managing back pain as traditional physical therapy. One of the ways it does this is the emphasis on maintaining spinal health through full range of motion (ROM) movements in all six planes of motion. The spinal ranges of motion are twisting (right and left in the transverse plane), side stretch (right and left in the coronal plane), and flexion and extension (bending forward and back in the sagittal plane).
One of the chief benefits of aqua yoga compared to other aquatic exercise modalities is the opportunities for spinal extension. In this case, both a back bend and axial extension (the spine lengthening along its axis like you’re getting taller). Most other aquatic exercise regimes take place with a neutral spine (think aerobic activities like running) or result in spinal flexion (think hand-to-foot exercises). Aqua yoga encourages both axial extension awareness and actively engaging in axial extension before moving in other planes. It also includes true spinal extension in postures such as Cobra pose.
There is a relationship between back pain and the length of your hamstrings also. Yoga poses that include forward folds such as Down Dog pose or Pyramid pose can be used to lengthen the hamstrings with or without spinal flexion or extension.
One of the contributing factors to back pain is poor posture. When you sit too often or hunch over, your abdominal muscles weaken and also contract. Strengthening your abdominals through Level III moves in aquatic exercise is more effective with a stretching component included than strengthening moves alone.
This is an excerpt of the full article I wrote for AKWA Magazine. To read the full article, Yoga Poses for Back Pain, as an AEA member, visit their website.
Do you need help with back pain?
I did a whole workshop on keeping your spine healthy and reducing back pain. You can get all the details HERE.