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Ease Low Back Pain: A Simple Traction Technique with a Yoga Strap
Over my 30 years of teaching yoga to all kinds of people with lower back pain, I’ve become familiar with how someone’s discomfort can run the gamut from a backache at the end of the day, or muscle spasms from poor body mechanics to a bulging disc or joint misalignment that consistently presses on a nerve causing radiating nerve pain. Sometimes this type of nerve pain is called sciatica. This is a familiar story.
I am sure someone you know has experienced this type of back pain. Perhaps you’ve had this experience. It’s the type of pain that limits your ability to move freely making it difficult to lift objects, sit, or stand without pain. It’s the kind of pain that motivates you to call your doctor or seek some form of professional help.
Smart Traction for Low Back Pain
Sometimes in an acute back injury, full traction of the spine is contraindicated. This is due to the fact that the natural response of the body is for the muscles to go into spasm to protect the joints. In an acute back injury, if we were to traction both sides of the spine at the same time, the protection response could be triggered, causing additional muscle spasms, increased inflammation, and more pain.
By applying traction to one side at a time as demonstrated in this video, you can easily reduce muscle spasms, and increase space around the joints of the lower back and help reduce inflammation while avoiding the protection response.
In the practice of yoga, we have an opportunity to connect our mind to our breath, and our breath to our body, which brings the possibility of change into the body in the present moment. Sometimes the body just needs a little help to release the tension or muscle spasms along the lower spine in order to reset and reduce the pain of a back injury.
How to Use Traction in Yoga Practice to Reduce Low Back Pain
Use this alternate leg traction technique when you experience back pain from lower back spasms, vertebral rotations, mild disc bulges, facet joint pinching, or a lifting injury that is older than three days. This practice is very useful if you have lower back pain that ranges from a 4 to 6 on a 1 to 10 pain scale (one being no pain). Note: If you currently have lower back pain at 7 points or higher, or pain that persists, please consult with a healthcare professional or yoga therapist.
In this video you will learn:
How to place the belt
The use of a face cloth for extra padding
How to access the action of traction
When to shorten the belt
How to recognize small movements are enough
How to use the breath
Pulsing vs. holding
How to identify and address the differences between sides
My hope is that this fundamental alternate leg traction will offer you as much relief from your acute lower back pain as it has for my students and myself.
Reprinted with permission from Lillah Schwartz-Yogawithlillah.com
Lillah Schwartz, C-IAYT Certified Yoga Therapist, is an Asheville-based yoga teacher, teacher trainer, and author with more than 35 years of experience. A certified yoga therapist, her specialties include her book, Healing Our Backs with Yoga: An Essential Guide to Back Pain Relief, which came out in 2016. Lillah also has three therapeutic yoga DVDs for back pain relief.