Even as a young high-school runner, I had lower back pain. In the early 2000’s the whole “core” phenomena had yet to hit, so I was just running about with a blissfully ignorant midsection.
Oh, to be young.
Nowadays, I’ve figured out that paying attention to that essential area while running and working on core strength really helps with that little nagging pain a lot of us have.
If you happen to have been under a rock lately, the core consists of: the lower back, abdominals, pelvis and hips. Now, let’s be clear here. I ain’t no doctor and the highest level of science I’ve had is chemistry-for-non-science-majors in college. That class consisted of me spraining my ankle on the way to class and writing a paper about how our insatiable desire for spice changed the course of history.
But, I digress.
During yoga teacher training I learned some anatomy that has really helped me become more aware of these muscles and bones that carry me around all day long. The tips I’m gonna give ya are what works for me, but they may not work for you! So please, I urge you, listen to your body. If it hurts, don’t do it! Aging sucks y’all, I hear ya. So if you wanna talk yoga + aches and pains and such shoot me an email!
These little babies are gold. Painful and intense..but gold! This is a new find for me, but a foam roller can really knock out these little tight spots I just can’t get to. I like to lay on my back with my knees bent and my feet flat on the floor. Then, with the foam roller under my back, I slowly roll myself up and down, pushing with my feet.
Bridge can really pinpoint those lower back muscles that support your lower spine, and it happens to be one of my favorite poses. To set it up, lay on your back with your feet planted flat on your mat, knees hip-distance apart. Pressing through your feet, lift your hips so that your chest comes towards your chin. Hold this sucker for a while and you’ll really feel those muscles engaging!
Cobra can range from very gentle to intense, depending on your far you want to go. Lying on your belly, press the tops of your feet firmly into your mat. Place your hands right under your shoulders and tuck the crap out of your tailbone. If you don’t know how to do that, you can feel it by pressing your pelvis into the mat and noticing you bum get firmer! Finally, lift your heart and feel your whole back strong, from your shoulders down to your hips. From there, the variations are endless: Lift your arms, lift your legs, lift both, spread them wide…go nuts!
Start in mountain (standing pose) with arms straight overhead, then bend your knees into a narrow squat. Placing all of your weight into the left leg, wrap your right knee on top. Do the same “eagle” position with your arms, but with your left arm on top. You realllllly have to pull those abs in to stay balanced here. I am a big fan of these sort of “passive” core poses. It seems like the majority of the work is coming from the legs, but really it’s all in the torso! Here’s a visual:
If you happen to suffer from any lower back pain, or just want to increase core strength, give these suckers a try. Again, if something hurts, please stop! That’s your PSA for the evening!