At our San Francisco Chiropractic Center it's very common for low back pain patient's to tell us that they injured their back stretching, or the stretches they were doing made their low back pain worse.
What happens is, maybe they used the wrong stretching technique or forced it a little too much. Or, tried to stretch when they should of just rested for a short period and iced first….which is a good idea if the pain is new and acute, and really flared-up.
Anyway, the reason I am thinking about this in the first place is I came across an article at www.YogaJournal.com entitled Ease On Back, by physical therapist Julie Gudmestad, that talks about the benefits of a well constructed yoga stretching routine for conditions such as acute low back pain, herniated and bulging discs, and severe hip pain. Here is an excerpt from the article:
As a physical therapist, I have heard this unfortunate story many times.
Sitting forward bends are probably the best-known leg stretches, and are
therefore likely to be included in a beginning stretch routine, whether in a
public yoga or aerobics class, or in a book or video. Surprisingly, there seems
to be widespread misunderstanding about the role of stretching in the care of
back problems. And the irony is that certain types of stretching can actually
worsen some back problems.
A yoga practice with too much emphasis on aggressive forward bending can be
risky, particularly if the student has tight hamstrings and a flattened curve
in the lower back. A well-constructed yoga routine, however, can be an ideal
way to learn to stretch without creating or exacerbating back pain, and a
chance to practice good alignment and movement patterns which help protect the
back from injury.
My Take: I know first hand from 20 years practicing chiropractic in downtown San Francisco, that the wrong type of exercises or stretches for back pain can do more harm than good.
Incorporating well constructed Yoga programs into treatment protocols for acute and chronic back, neck, and hip pain just makes sense…especially in the SF Bay Area where there are so many talented Yoga instructors (Check out the Yoga Journal Online Directory).