Various forms of yoga have been done for hundreds of years. Even the cave men and women probably had some soft patch of grass where they would do some gentle stretching to loosen up their achy bones and joints.
I know you realize that I’m joking here but as I think about it, maybe it’s not a joke. Seriously, hunting and gathering was really hard on their bodies and let’s face it, they didn’t have good quality shoes, diets, sleeping arrangements, or anything for that matter so you know that they had a lot of low back, hip and leg pain.
Stretching can really alleviate some aches and pains and also prevent injuries. Yoga focuses on more than stretching though. It focuses on breathing techniques and postural control of various muscle groups.
Does Bed Rest Help Low Back Pain?
Doctors used to tell people to get 3 days of bed rest if they had low back pain. Did the cave man or woman have the luxury of bed rest? No. They were simply trying to survive.
I think it’s interesting to find that research has shown that bed rest is the absolute worst thing you can do for a bad or ailing low back.
Just today, I met with a patient consultation and his wife. It was really sad. He was miserable. He lost job because of his back pain. He said that he couldn’t stand for any length of time because it would cause incredible low back and leg pain.
His MRI report showed multiple levels of degenerative disc disease and he had multiple bulging discs as well as a couple of herniated discs.
Low Back Pain Ruins Lives
I could tell that something more was going on between them because of the way that they were speaking about his pain. His wife seemed really angry. I knew something was up.
Eventually, his wife said, “This has ruined everything for us and our kids. His pain has changed everything. In fact, we don’t even live in the same house anymore. We never will.”
This patient consultation described for me that the only thing he can do is lay in bed. That’s it. He can’t do anything. I had to explain to him that bed rest is the wrong thing to do.
He explained that his pain is so bad, he doesn’t have any other options. I shared my history of back, hip, and leg pain and how I understood what he was going through but that he needed to get up and move around.
I believe that when there is a “bad” disc or a “disc problem” that is causing low back, hip, or leg pain, it can be a really bad situation because the person who is having the pain can’t do anything, but not doing anything will make the low back pain, sciatica, and hip or leg pain worse over time.
Why does Inactivity make Low Back Pain Worse?
Prolonged inactivity will weaken the muscles. Strong muscles and good muscle tone are needed in order to support the spine and help it function properly. Movement is key.
You have to stay active even when you are hurting and feel like you can’t. The old saying, “If you don’t use it you’ll lose it” is so true.
So, we know that exercise is out when you are in serious low back pain. Why not get down on a soft mat on the floor (or your bed if you can’t get on the floor) and do some gentle stretching?
Yoga is not easy. It’s not fun. It’s not sexy or glamorous, but if it helps you get back on your feet, it is worth it. At the same time, it can help you relax and can calm down a rogue nervous system.
I like the A.M. P.M. yoga by Rodney Yee. His A.M. routine is good for beginners and can really help loosen up the spine. I included the link to go to Amazon.com and order your copy.
What is the Best Yoga Mat?
A little word of advice is to get a thick yoga mat. It’s easier on the knees. *Disclaimer – I can’t do all of the moves or yoga postures on the Yoga DVD’s. I was born horribly inflexible and can’t do some of the yoga poses.
It’s okay. Only do what you can get away with and skip something if it causes pain or discomfort. With time and persistence, you may find that you will able to do more of the poses as you have less pain.
A yoga routine won’t fix all of your ills or heal a herniated or bulging disc. However, it can make things more bearable and improve the recovery process as you are going through treatments and improve your health in the long term.
Health is Happiness,
Dr. Keith Currie