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How to keep your back healthy?

I have learned so much in the Spine Module with Yoga Medecine and happy to share some basic insights on how to keep you back safe and healthy.

More then 80% of the people suffer from back pain and most current is lower back pain and neck pain. Most back injuries and pain are coming from our unhealthy habits. How often do we stand in line, leaning in one hip, we tend to usually cross always the same leg over, we tend to sit with a rounded back at our computer, we tend to carry our child always on the same hip (this last one is not my experience ;-)

Even when we do a lot of sports, we can create asymmetries in the body, think about a football player always using the same leg or a tennis player using the same arm. These habits and repetitive actions create a certain pattern in our body, we tend to have parts in our body which are very tight, think about the muscles around the neck that lift up your shoulders where we usually hold a lot of stress (upper traps and levator scapula), muscles that draw the shoulders and chest forward (pectoralis), hip flexors (psoas) are usally tight from sitting a lot, and other muscles that are weak (lower traps, muscles that pull the shoulders down), weak core muscles, ....

This imbalance can eventually lead to injuries. Our strong muscles get tired and overworked and our weak muscles get dormant as we don't use them. Think about a trampoline where some of the springs are not tied up anymore. You want all the muscles working together to create cohesive movements, to move with more ease and to put less pressure in the joints.

With yoga, we want to become aware of our so called "bad" habits and we want to create new and healthy habits by strengthening the weaker parts in our body and by opening up the parts in our body that are tight.

When i look at the lumbar spine (lower back), this part is a free floating part of the spine and has to carry a lot of weight, the pressure on this part of the spine is heavier which often leads to injuries. Our core muscles are usually weak, our hip flexors are tight, our back muscles are usually tight from holding us up all day long and our glutes are usually weak. These muscles will pull the hips either forward or backward, which impacts the curve in our lower back. The hips are the base of the spine, think about a bouquet of roses sitting in a vase, the vase is your hips and flowers your spine. We want to keep the vase straight, so we can maintain a healhty curve in our spine. 

The spine gets supports from 3 muscles very deep in your body. You can see these muscles as kind of pillars that support your spine, we have the psoas on the front of the spine, the quadratus lumborum on the side of the spine and the multifidus in the back of the spine. Sure there are many more tiny little muscles, i just name the 3 bigger ones. Again some of these muscles maybe tight or weak, pulling on the spine in certain directions. There again we want to find support and balance.  So if we can start to see the body as a puppet on a string, our bones/bodies are the puppet pulled by the strings (our muscles) in different directions. We want all the layers of muscles working together as in a trampoline to keep our spine healthy.

Yoga will definitely help first of all bringing more awareness, gaining insights and creating greater balance.

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