Protecting the Lower Back
This week our emphasis is going to be on our lower backs and lower back pain. Much of our lower back pain can be traced to weak hip flexors – a group of muscles that pull the knee upward. The main hip flexors are the Iliopsoas, the rectus femoris or main thigh muscle and one of the gluteal muscles the tensor fasciae latae or TLF
Another group is the External Hip Rotators which originate on the sacrum and insert into the femur at the top or greater trochanter.
Our very lifestyle is one of the main causes of lower back problems. Vijay Vad, M.D., says, “One of the things that all of us in the modern world need to pay better attention to is how we punish our back backs with chair sitting. Our backs evolved in a world without furniture to suit a lifestyle of intermittent movement and rest. The best way for our early human ancestors to sit, and surely the most common, was to sit cross-legged flat on the ground. Sitting cross-legged in this manner with a straight back engages the whole core body structure – head, neck, shoulders, abdomen, back, and hips in active harmony. Maintaining a relaxed, balanced posture continually requires micro-adjustments that align the spine, tone muscles and tendons, and perhaps most important, maximize flexion and range of motion in the hips.” (Back RX, p11-12)
Another way of helping to protect our lower back both in our yoga practice and outside, is learning to draw back the belly area from the pubic bone to the navel while lifting the muscles gently up toward the lower ribs. This enables the navel to move in toward the body while allowing the sacrum to descend and relax in a protected fashion. It lengthens the spine, decreases compression and allows for much safer twists and backbends.