Back pain? Stretch it away with Yoga!

By: Briana Dixon | April 20, 2022

Dealing with back pain? You’re not alone.

In the US, back pain is the most common cause of limited activity in people under the age of 45, the 2nd most common reason for doctor visits, and the 5th most common reason for hospitalization. In most cases, the root of the issue points back to the same factors: lack of movement which leads to muscle weakness and immobility. Improving the flexibility and strength of the muscles in the body, through activities like yoga, could lead to a decrease in pain, or prevention altogether. 

When trying to find relief, it can prove helpful to look outside of the problem area. Not all lower back pain stems from the back. Surprising, right? When the hamstrings and hips, specifically the hip flexors, are weak or tight, back pain is likely to occur; and if those muscles are weak, chances are the muscles in the back are weak too.

The hamstrings assist in flexing the knees and extending the hips, which is what helps us walk and run. The hip flexors bring the legs, hips, and trunk together, stabilizing the upper body as we use our lower body to move. Therefore, maintaining an open range of motion in these areas is critical. The core muscles, located in the abdomen are also used to help us move by keeping our posture and spine aligned. When they’re aligned, the likelihood of back pain decreases, so core strength is also imperative. 

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Certain habits can increase one’s chances of encountering back pain, including regularly sitting for long periods, and regularly participating in intense cardio. These actions keep the hip flexors short and tight. Tight hip flexors prevent the hips from properly extending as we stand, walk, run, etc., which makes the back work extra hard to support our movements, causing unnecessary stress. They also pull the pelvis out of alignment, placing pressure on the spine that will eventually lead to pain in the back, and possibly in the knees, ankles, and feet.

Many fail to realize that imbalances in the muscle groups will cause limitations in movement. That said, it is essential to consistently work to improve the strength and flexibility of the entire body. That’s where yoga comes in.

Sure, regular stretching can be effective, but yoga goes beyond simply increasing flexibility. It focuses on muscle strength too, especially for more advanced poses. Balance is also key. Strengthening the core is what will improve balance, and is a fundamental component of the practice.

However, it’s important to know that practicing yoga comes with risks, so check with your doctor if you’re inexperienced, or if you’re recovering from a serious injury. You can tremendously decrease the associated risks by using proper form and making slow, gentle movements. It could also be helpful to contact the yoga studio or instructor before attending to ensure they can meet your needs. Below, you will find three yoga studios in the Detroit area that very carefully cater to the needs of all their students. 

Bold Flow Yoga 

With studio locations throughout West Bloomfield, Royal Oak, Southfield, and Gross Pointe, most Metro Detroiters have easy access to Bold Flow Yoga; And if you’d rather stay home, online classes are also available. They offer classes for all levels, a variety of instructors, and additional programming like free guided meditations, workshops, and class series. Upcoming events include a wall yoga workshop, a yin yoga series, and an aerial yoga series. To learn more about Bold Flow Yoga, follow them on Instagram @boldflowyogaspace, or Facebook @boldflowwb, @boldflowro, and @boldflowgp. 

Citizen Yoga 

This yoga studio strives to serve its students beyond the yoga mat. Here you can find yoga classes for all levels and additional wellness services including acupuncture, reiki healing, massages, and personalized, 1on1 yoga and meditation sessions. With studio locations throughout Detroit, Royal Oak, Bloomfield, and online classes, it’s an easily accessible option as well. They often host yoga retreats and events focused on mental wellness, and take time to discuss mental health and wellness in general, using their after-class podcast. Upcoming events include a full moon flow with a sound bath, an arm balance workshop, and a sunset series with rooftop yoga and live music. To learn more about Citizen Yoga, follow them on Instagram @citizenyoga, or Facebook @citizenyogami, @citizenyogabloomfieldstudio, and @citizenyogadetstudio.

Elevated Yogi 

Located in Downtown Detroit, Elevated Yogi offers a variety of beginner-friendly classes specific to the needs of its students. With the help of its sister studio, I Am Ashram, located in the lovely Boston-Edison neighborhood, they are able to host specialized experiences such as mommy and me, chair, and nada yoga. In addition, they offer retreats and other events that encourage healthy living. Upcoming events include their daily yoga classes and their weekly cooking demonstrations called “Fresh Fridays”. To learn more about Elevated Yogi and I Am Ashram, follow them on Instagram @elevatedyogi or @iam_ashram, or Facebook @elevatedyogi.

Those are just a few. However, with so many studios in the Detroit area, it’s just about finding what’s best for you. Yoga isn’t going to work the same for everyone but for many, it’s a step in the right direction. Happy healing!