When done properly, twists have the potential to help your low back feel great. Twisting can activate the muscles around the lumbar spine and abdominal core, increasing stability as well as blood flow and oxygenation to the area. Twisting also appears to increase hydration of the intervertebral disks, which may help to counteract the changes caused by degenerative disk disease. Here are three poses to help you relieve low back pain.
See also Yoga Anatomy: Prevent Low Back Pain in Twists
Practicing chest openers, such as Sphinx Pose, before you twist is a nice way to expand the chest—a key action while twisting, too. Lie on your belly, legs side by side, and contract your glutes. Roll your outer thighs toward the floor to internally rotate your femurs, helping to broaden and lengthen your lower back and sacrum to protect them in this backbend. Set your elbows under your shoulders, and your forearms on the floor parallel to each other. Inhale and lift your upper torso and head away from the floor into a mild backbend. Stay here for 3–5 deep breaths, then find your way to Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog Pose).
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About Our Pros
Teacher Ray Long, MD, is an orthopedic surgeon in Detroit and the founder of Bandha Yoga, a website and book series dedicated to the anatomy and biomechanics of yoga. Model Stephanie Schwartz is a yoga teacher based in Boulder, Colorado.