Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, MD, FFARCSI

About Backbends & Its Benefits

The main reason to practice backbends is to find a way for spine mobility in the direction of its extension. While doing backbends, we often do not realize that it is an exciting way to move the spine. It is an automatic process where our physical edge and minds are challenged. We often bend forward but we don’t go against the gravity. Backbends can act as natural pain killers. They can help remove tension stored in muscles and help generating patience in us. They may also help you re-energize yourself and boost up your energy naturally. There are several advantages for your health and body for performing backbends regularly. Few of the benefits of backbends are:

  • Regular practice of backbends is beneficial in getting rid of persistent back or neck pain
  • Backbends helps bring your spine back to natural bending position
  • Relieves from stress and anxiety
  • Improvement from shallow breathing
  • One of the benefits of doing backbends is that it helps stretch your abdominal muscles and internal organs
  • Gain courage, strength and trust
  • Gain new perspectives to life
  • Learn that limits are self-made
  • Compress and flush kidneys
  • Backbends are beneficial in relieving insomnia and restlessness.

Can Backbends Hurt your Back?

Nevertheless, with the bunch of benefits of backbends, it can also lead to severe back pains if not done the right way. The conditions where backbends can hurt your back are:

Backbends can hurt your back if the weight and balance is not well-distributed throughout the Spine:

When you experience a lower back pain after a backbend, it signifies that the backbend was not done in a correct way. If the bend is improperly distributed throughout the entire spine, a pain or discomfort is bound to occur. Often, it is found out that yoga students or whoever is practicing yoga, on over-exerting themselves, face a certain level of discomfort, or uneven breathing etc. This is only because the backbend has not been well-executed.

A second sign of a backbend not executed properly is a poorly coordinated posture. If the pressure or the movement is not evenly distributed then we will not be able to see complete arches and it will appear as sharp angles and discontinued flat lines which are clear indication of some parts of your body are in satisfying motion while others are not in proper activity.

A Clear Archway Should be Created to Avoid Back Pain While Doing Backbends:

Backbend variations should be skipped in certain exercises in which the hyperextension of the lumbar spine is an inherent requirement as a part of the pose. They might look creative, smooth and graceful but they are not making a fruitful change to your body. They might be good on an aesthetical level but not on a functional or structural level of the body. The primary procedure to make an even arch is to learn the intended way to stabilize the areas on our body which are comparatively more active and in motion (i.e. lumbar spine). A major step in the process is to learn to control the rib thrust. We should move our front low ribs in an inward and downward motion which will gently make use of our abdominal muscles to generate a slightly forward movement of the rib cage as a full, as we prepare to get to our backbend position. This definite posture should persuade a slight upliftment up of the back ribs that will create a better aesthetically and optimally more appealing curve.

Postures to Avoid When Backbends Hurt Your Back

Cat and Camel Pose:

This particular yoga pose is supposed to make you feel a stretch in your abdominal muscles. However, it can also stretch out the lower backs. So, this should be avoided if you already have an existing lower back pain or a disk issue.

Lunge Twist:

The general human tendency while doing this posture is to use abdominal muscle to lead the movement, which can lead to severe back injuries. If you have issues of bulging disk then avoid practicing this pose.

Seated Forward Fold:

This is specially designed to relieve pressure and help in stretching the calf muscles and hamstrings. This might also pinch the nerves and cause severe pain to anyone with existing disk problems.

Avoid Shoulder Stand Pose to Avoid When Your Back Hurts:

This pose can put an immense amount of pressure on your neck and back if not performed correctly. Also, if you have a weaker back and a slouch pose you tend to compress the lower back, which again risks your back causing your back to hurt when you do it.

Boat Pose:

This backbend pose makes you tilt your lower lumbar spine in such a way that can aggravate your back pain. Therefore, one should be very careful while carrying out Boat Pose Backbend.

Full Wheel Pose:

This backbend pose needs a lot of strength and flexibility which risks in putting a lot of pressure on your back and spine. Therefore, it is better to avoid full wheel pose and do a half wheel or a half bridge to be on the safer side.

How to do Backbends Without Hurting Yourself?

Usually adults of modern days have a tendency of stiff middle backs. This is usually from the tenth thoracic vertebra (T10) to the fourth lumbar vertebra (L4).The bending backwards are done by these people mostly from the lowest part of their spine junction. This lies between the fifth lumbar vertebra and the first sacral vertebra.

As this particular region of our spine lies below the top of the hips, it is genuinely very difficult to get rid of the compression by a forward bent of the spine. This is only because most people have a tendency to bend forward. However, we primarily bend forward from the hip junction. We do this in a holistic manner solely due to our lifestyle habits in which we remain seated mainly and in which we are always bending forward from the hips. Once we inculcate the habit to bend from the entire spine rather than from the hips, we have the major key to get rid of back pain while attempting to do very safe and effectual ‘backbends’.

After judging the pros and cons of backbends we need to try performing milder versions of backbends instead and strive for that stable arch whose foundation is rooted in our body awareness, functions and movement integrity.

Pramod Kerkar

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD,FFARCSI

Pain Assist Inc.

Last Modified On: February 18, 2019

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

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