Tanya Rawal is a movement and lifestyle coach who helps people become more confident, pain-free and functional in their movements through exercise, lifestyle changes, lymph massage and breathwork. She used to be a corporate lawyer who realised that a 9 to 5 legal desk job was not her cup of tea. A simple rendezvous with yoga led to an epiphany, and she knew she found her calling! Here she recommends a set of simple exercises you can do at home to stay healthy and pain-free. There’s loads more about Tanya’s work on her Insta handle and website.
Over to Tanya…
One of the most crippling problems in a modern-day person’s life is a nagging lower back pain. It can affect your ability to function physically on a day to day basis and take a toll on your mental state. If you are someone who is going through this agony, give the following exercises a try that may help with the pain management.
Proning/Crocodile Pose: When in acute pain, your first go-to pose should be proning. The prone position negates the effects of gravity on the body and the spine tends to stay in a more neutral position. It also helps expand the lungs more fully. Lie down on your belly with hands on top of each other and rest your forehead on the hands. Take deep breaths.
Duration: 5-10 min
Static Back: This is one of my favourites. Begin by lying down on your back with your legs up a chair/stool/bed ensuring that the knees are stacked right above the hips. Keep your palms facing the ceiling. Relax and take deep breaths.
Duration: 5-10 min
Air Bench: This exercise links the ankles, knees and hips. Stand with your back against the wall. Press your hips and the small of your back into it while walking the feet forward and sliding down into a sitting position which is roughly at a 90° angle. Knees should be stacked over the ankle and not toes. If the knee hurts, raise your body up the wall to relieve pressure. Feel the quads working.
Duration: 1-2 min
Modified Curl-Up: Lie down on your back and place your hands underneath the small of your back. Stiffen your abdominal muscles, lift the elbows off the ground and slightly lift the head and shoulders just a few inches off the ground. Feel the tension in the abdomen.
Duration: 10-30 seconds X 3 sets
Birddog: Get down on all fours, stiffen the abdominal muscles and raise the opposite arm and leg simultaneously no higher than the hip height. Remember the spine is locked and only the shoulder and hip joints should move. As you get a hang of it, try a sweeping motion where the hand and leg move simultaneously.
Duration: static: 5-10 sec holds X 3 sets; sweeping method: 10 repetitions X 3 sets
Side Plank: Lie down sideways with your elbow right below the shoulder. Keep your knees bent at 90°. For beginners, hinge the hips back and as you progress, you can extend the legs completely, with the feet split.
Duration: 10-30 sec holds x 3 sets
Hip Hinge: This one is very useful for day-to-day functioning. One should learn how to bend from the hips and not the spine (which puts unnecessary pressure in the back). For beginners, keep a stick behind the body so that it touches only the head, shoulder blades and tailbone. Ensure there is a tiny gap between the lower back and the stick. Keeping all the 3 points in contact, pull the ribcage down and hinge your hips back like you are ‘shooting from the butt’ and keep a soft bend in the knee. Hinge till you feel a stretch in your hamstrings and then stand up tall again squeezing your butts.
Duration: 10 repetitions x 3 sets
PS: There is never a single cause for body pain. Pain is a very complex matter and is caused by many factors that are physiological, social and/or psychological. Besides lack of movement or faulty movement patterns, it is also important to look at postural imbalances, emotional state, inflammation of the gut, bad footwear, breathing pattern, etc. to get better insight into the root cause.
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