If you have ever suffered from low back pain, then you know how spine health can be so important for day to day quality of living. How can you keep your spine healthy and prevent back pain before it begins?
Yoga and Pilates maintain a consistent focus on the back and abdominal muscles which are the essential components of the muscular network of the spine. Joseph Pilates, inventor of the Pilates method, proclaimed, “A man is as young as his spinal column.”
The gentle strengthening and elongating offered through yoga and Pilates sessions can alleviate the many mysterious and interconnected issues that arise in and near the spinal column. With these practices, we can maintain good spine health by stretching and strengthening our spines.
Defects and disease in the spine’s structure can occur from aging, injury, genetics and/or sitting at a desk and commuting every day. Discomforts are also derived from stress and fatigue that we tend to shrug off versus taking the time to realign. Harvard Health Publications offers that four out of five Americans will eventually suffer from back pain, but yoga appears to help.
We commonly think of our spine as simply the bones supported by the network of muscles which when healthy is erect, strong and flexible. This is true! However, spine health also ensures the efficiency and longevity of the nervous system. Through the yoga practice, we recalibrate the parasympathetic nervous system. This means the practice can help reset and restore our rest-and-relaxation response, which is paramount. This takes us out of the “fight-or-flight” response created primarily by unresolved trauma (big and small) and copious amounts of stress (read more about the science of stress here) which most people in modern societies experience daily. When we never allow our nervous systems to recover, we eventually experience various forms of dis-ease. Joseph Pilates suggested that his method was just another way to ensure we could fully engage with life.
When practiced consciously, both yoga and Pilates decompress and elongate the spine, providing a feeling of space. When we create more space in our physical bodies, we can move and breathe with much more ease. From this relaxed and spacious place, we become less reactive to life and more responsive from a neutral, intelligent, and grounded perspective. This is one reason why it is strongly suggested to remain in savasana, or corpse pose, for a bare minimum of five minutes at the end of a yoga class. Lying down with the spine in a neutral position allows the nervous system to integrate the physical practice and reset itself.
Essentially, the practices of yoga and Pilates are two-fold toward spine health. They keep our spinal column physically fit while simultaneously supporting our nervous system allowing for comfort, ease and vitality for life.
Want to kick your spine health into high gear? Try this yoga practice from Adi Amar, Healthy Happy Back, to keep the spine strong and supple.
Add this short sweet pilates session for the abdominals. Pilates Core Fire with Nikki Beck to round out 50 minutes toward a healthier spine today.
“You are only as young and as healthy as your spine is strong and supple.”Tweet