There are several great yoga poses to relieve back pain, as a chiropractor this one is at the top of my list. The video located in the middle of this article will help guide you through the pose.
From alleviating tight muscles to relieving low back pain, the Cat Cow (also called Cat and Camel) is one of the best yoga poses for managing a variety of back related problems. I actually teach it to many of my chiropractic patients. When done properly, this movement pose addresses many of the musculoskeletal components needed for a healthy spine.
For my favorite exercise for neck pain, click here.
The Cat Cow provides a gentle, non-weight bearing, movement to the spine. This movement of the spinal bones (called vertebrae) is key for relieving pain, lubricating the joints, and allowing nutrients to flow into the intervertebral discs. It also provides stretching of the muscles and tissues of the back, while having a decompression effect on the discs and joints. If you have been diagnosed with a herniated disc, check out my article, How to Treat a Herniated Disc Without Surgery.
As a chiropractor working with patients for over 25 years, I have found that some people have difficulty learning to perform this pose correctly. I believe it’s because the movement involves a certain level of core muscle control that some people do not have. Fortunately, it can be learned relatively quick.
Although the instructor is not a chiropractor, the video above, from Howcast.com on YouTube, shows the proper way to perform the Cat Cow. She shows both a basic and advanced version of the maneuver. If you are in pain DO NOT do the advanced “core awakening posture” version.
When performing the Cat Cow for back pain, here are some strategies and red flags to make sure you are using it appropriately.
The beginning position should lessen your back pain or be pain free. If the beginning position is not comfortable, do not continue.
Stay in a pain free range. Even if this means only going a few centimeters up and down, to start. The range should open up as you continue.
Do 10 repetitions in a row. Rest for 5 minutes in a pain free position (on your side with your knees bent and a pillow between them or on your back with your knees bent). Repeat 3 times.
If the pain gets worse stop immediately.
If pain begins to travel to other parts of your body, stop immediately.
If you have other symptoms accompanying your back pain do not do the Cat Cow.
You can perform the Cat Cow multiple times over the course of the day. When performed properly, you should see a gradual improvement of your symptoms. If your symptoms do not improve or worsen, you may need to see a chiropractor.
If you are interested in other exercises to support your back and neck, please visit the EXERCISE page on our website.
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Wishing you good health,
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