By Kimaya Singh
Have you experienced neck and back pain after a long day of sitting at home or at work? In the modern era, as we have increased the amount of time we spend sitting at our computers at work or our televisions at home, we have inadvertently placed increasing amounts of strain upon the skeletal components in our necks and backs.
Prior to modern times, people simply did not spend so much of their day in a seated position to develop these problems. Most people found themselves working in jobs in industries such as agriculture that required physical exertion or manual labor. During these times, people actually exercised as part of their daily work duties. In contrast, many people today do work at their desks on computers or by standing all day, often in the same position, and do not have the opportunity to exercise.
One consequence of prolonged sitting or standing in the same position for most of the day is that the spine becomes compressed. This means that strains develop in and in between the discs of the spine, which can create discomfort. Causes for this discomfort certainly include the natural water loss in the spinal column but also the force of gravity that ultimately causes the process of thinning between the discs in the spine. Discs serve as cushions between the vertebrae and when they become strained, the body experiences stiffness, nerve problems and actual pain if the condition is not addressed in some way. This condition is what is known as spinal compression.
Although the process of spinal compression is a natural consequence of ageing and of sitting for prolonged periods of time, the condition can readily be addressed through the use of yoga exercises. These exercises can help to pump the spinal discs back up and to bring needed water supplies back into the discs for a healthier back and neck. The following are just a few typical stretches and exercises that can be used to achieve more optimal spinal disc health.
Fortunately, we can use yoga exercises that have existed for thousands of years to decompress our spines. Assuming that yoga exercises are done correctly, they all in some way help to alleviate spinal compression and its symptoms. Please consult your physician prior to using yoga exercises to treat spinal compression.
Particularly effective in treating problems in the lumbar region of the spine, the Cat Stretch helps to relieve pressure. Sitting, facing forward, and resting your body on your knees and elbows initiate this move. Once you are in that position, use your abdominal muscles to arch your lower back upward. After you have arched as high as possible, remain in that position for approximately 20 seconds and then return to normal. Repeat as often as desired.
Knees to Chest Repetitions
Doing the Knees to Chest Pose relieves compression in the lumbar spine and in the discs. This exercise is fairly simple in that you begin by lying on your back in Shavasana. Slowly raise your knees up toward your chest and use your arms to grab hold of the shins. Take deep breaths while bringing your knees as close to your chest as possible with your arms and hands. A blanket could elevate your head, while your tailbone could also be slightly elevated by the nature of the pose. Hold this position for ten seconds and return to the starting position. Repeat ten times.
If you repeat these exercises along with many other decompressing yoga poses, you should experience noticeable benefits, one of which is the surprising feeling of being taller! Your sense of coordination, balance, and flexibility will all be enhanced by regular yoga practice. The back pain you once experienced will quickly disappear as you use yoga to decompress your spine.
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