Relaxing Yoga Poses To Release Shoulder + Back Pain
Fix rounded shoulders and back pain with these gentle, easy yoga poses.
The shoulder is the most mobile joint in the human body. There are four main muscles that support the rotator cuff, as well as the deltoid muscle, which covers the top and sides like a shoulder pad.
Our back is also complex, with both large and small muscles that support the spine. When we find ourselves in a constant state of tension and bad posture, both the shoulders and the back take a hit. The shoulders, chest, neck, lats, and hip flexors get tight from sitting and looking down, while the muscles of the back and rear part of the shoulders get weak. This leads to knots, tightness, and pain from imbalance.
Suffering from a sore neck, back and shoulders? Get our mobility guide to ease pain and soreness.
Yoga is a great way to realign your back and shoulders while increasing flexibility throughout your entire body. Use these easy poses daily to release tightness and alleviate pain.
Proper Form Is Especially Important For People With Back Pain
The main issue with yoga-related back injuries is that people dont follow proper form and speed, says Dr. Lauren Elson, instructor in medicine at Harvard Medical School. “They quickly drop into a yoga pose without gradually lengthening into it.”
This is similar to jerking your body while lifting a dumbbell and doing fast reps instead of making a slow, controlled movement, or running on a treadmill at top speed without steadily increasing the tempo. The result is a greater chance of injury.
In yoga, you should use your muscles to first create a solid foundation for movement, and then follow proper form that slowly lengthens and stretches your body. For example, when I perform my seated twist, I have to remember that the point of the pose is not to rotate as fast and far as possible. Instead, I need to activate my core muscles and feel as though my spine is lengthening. Then I can twist slowly until I feel resistance, and hold for as long as its comfortable and the tension melts away.
Option : Blocks Under Elbows
- Start in Tabletop with two blocks in front of your hands, with the long edges of the blocks running parallel to the long edges of the mat.
- You can place a blanket over the blocks for comfort if you prefer.
- Bring your elbows on to the blocks and walk your knees back until hips are directly over your knees.
- Bring hands together in prayer and bend at your elbows, working your hands to the upper back between the shoulder blades.
- Descend the chest toward the mat.
- Imagine you are wrapping your shoulders down and back toward your side bodies, to keep the shoulder blades from collapsing together.
- Breathe horizontally across your chest and back, stretching through your intercostal muscles, which are the muscles between your ribs.
- Optionally, you can press down through your elbows on the inhale and release on the exhale to deepen the range of motion.
- Hold for 520 breaths.
Recommended Reading: Can Hot Yoga Help You Lose Weight
How To Move Into Supine Pigeon Pose:
Lad down on your back with your knees bent and your feet planted at hips-width distance. Extend your right leg up, and then bring your ankle onto the top of your left thigh. Flex your right foot and allow your right knee to fall forward, away from your body, until you feel your hip stretch. For more depth, reach around for the back of your left thigh and draw both knees into your chest, keeping your lower back firmly planted. Hold for 5 to 10 round of breath, then switch sides.
How Do You Use A Yoga Block
Yoga blocks are incredibly versatile and can be used in many different ways. It can help you build the flexibility and strength you need to deepen your poses by providing additional support. It can also help increase your overall mobility and range of motion.
You can use it as a platform for your legs, hands, belly, shoulders, and so much more. But our main focus for today is how to use a yoga block for your back.
Recommended Reading: Does Bikram Yoga Help With Weight Loss
T With Your Shoulder Blades Off The Block
The first way that you should try stretching your upper back is by placing your blocks in a “T” with your shoulder blades draping off the sides of the block.
Option : Blocks Under Hands
- Start in Adho Mukha Svanasana with your palms on the blocks. Shift your weight forward into a high Plank Pose.
- Start to lower your hips down toward the mat as you lift your chest and gaze to point toward the front of the room.
- If accessible, untuck toes and come to the tops of the feet.
- Press your hands down as if they were trying to press through the blocks.
- Broaden across your chest and collar bones.
- Draw your shoulders down your back, away from your ears.
- Hug your front lower ribs in and lengthen your tailbone down toward your heels to take pressure out of the low back.
- Roll upward slightly through your inner thighs to narrow your frontal hip points and create space in your low back.
- Contract through your front thighs as if you were trying to lift them away from the mat.
- Hold for 510 breaths.
- Blocks teach us to lift our knees off of the mat in Upward Dog. Contracting through the quadriceps and lifting knees off the mat protects the lumbar spine.
- Blocks give the spine more space in the backbend so that we are not moving the bend into the upper or lower back. Blocks target the thoracic spine, which is your middle back.
Overall pose benefits:
Recommended Reading: Power Vinyasa Yoga Calories
Read All About The Latest Gym Openings Healthy Events And Fitness Trends In Our Twice Weekly Wellness Newsletter
At the beginning of the COVID-19 quarantine, we found ourselves rushing to create a work from home space if we didnt have one already. Now, with just about a month of working from home under our belts, you may find that your back has started to bother you. Whether its because your dining room chair isnt as comfortable as your office chair, youre working in a small space, or you spend all day hunched over your makeshift desk, all of these factors and more can take a toll on your back.
To help alleviate some of the pain and discomfort you may be feeling in your back, we spoke with Tatyana Souza, the owner of Coolidge Yoga. She shares eight yoga-inspired back stretches you can do throughout the day to release the tension in your back. If you have them, yoga blocks are recommended, but firm throw pillows will work just as well.
1. Supported Fish
This chest opener helps relieve discomfort in your shoulders and chest. Start by setting up a block or pillow on the flat area underneath your shoulder blades, and a second block further up your back underneath the back of your head. Recline back and relax your arms down by your sides, with your palms facing up. Adjust the blocks as necessary to ensure that your chest is higher than your hips and your neck feels long and supported. Take five deep breaths into your chest and allow your shoulders to soften with gravity each time you exhale.
2. Supported Bridge
3. Low Lunge
4. Low Lunge with Side Bend
5. Supine Twist
Yoga Blocks To Relieve Back Pain
The main criminal of back pain is when people sit and continually lean forward all day. This locks the pelvis and flexes the spine, placing pressure on the front of the spinal discs. By using the yoga block to close the gap between the back and the chair, it can relieve some of that pressure as it forces proper posture in order to keep the yoga block in place.
Most serious yoga practitioners or yogis would be familiar with the use of the yoga block. The yoga block helps beginners achieve hard yoga poses as it improves alignment within the body and gives the beginner more comfort.
Poses like the chest opener which addresses to fix poor posture, can be used with a yoga block. The yogi lies down on their back while he yoga block is placed in between the lower back and shoulder blades and another one to support their head. This allows the chest to open as the pose suggests and it also creates deeper breathing and stretches the spine.
The main purpose of a yoga block is to improve body alignment and to provide comfort. Not only can it be used as a guide for yoga poses, use it in the office to relieve back pain by placing the yoga block to fill the gap between your back and the back of the chair.
Using a yoga block as back support can give long term benefits as it can help alleviate back pain and reduce future spinal damage and injury.
You May Like: Yoga For Degenerative Disc Disease
Top Products In This Article
Prolonged periods of sitting can cause low back pain or worsen an existing back problem. It can also weaken the core and strain the discs and surrounding structures of the spine. Holding poses in yoga, however, can help to strengthen your back muscles and reduce your low back pain.
Looking to incorporate some yoga into your daily routine? Here are 7 poses to help you get started!
Find All Your Yoga Essentials At Pureful Yoga
For some of the best quality and eco-friendly yoga essentialslook no further than Pureful Yoga!
We have everything you need to make the most out of your yoga practice, including cork yoga mats, alignment yoga mats, cork yoga mat bags, and of course, cork yoga blocks. All of our yoga essentials are made from sustainably sourced cork taken from the bark of the cork oak tree.
We chose cork as our main material because not only are they 100% organic, but theyre also incredibly durable and anti-slipthe two most important qualities you need in your yoga blocks and mats. It even has natural anti-microbial properties that kill germs, microbes, and fungiwhat more could you ask for?
Grab your yoga essentials from Pureful Yoga and start your yoga journey today!
Don’t Miss: Best Space Heater For Hot Yoga At Home
How To Move Into Spinal Twist:
Sit on the floor with your legs extended and your back straight. Bend your left knee and place your foot to the inside or outside of your right thigh, just your knee . Place your left knee on the floor behind you at the base of your spine. Place your right elbow to the outside of your left thigh. Activate your core and engage your abdominal lock. Lengthen your spine, and twist. Repeat for 5 breaths, then switch sides.
Yoga Poses To Ease Back Pain
Judy RukatYoga Teacher and Writer
500 RYT yoga teacher and part of the DoYou Editorial Team View more
If you suffer from an aching back, you are not alone. In fact, 8 out of 10 people experience some form of chronic pain ranging from mild to severe throughout their lives. Whether you blame poor posture, lack of physical conditioning, or good ol’ genetics, finding the root cause will help you seek healing relief.
Sometimes you must make a change in your behavior .
Other times, as in the case of spondylolisthesis or sciatica when nerve or spinal cord damage is present, you need medical advice because the “wrong” type of activity can indeed contribute to making the situation worse.
However, when back pain strikes, mindful yoga has been proven to alleviate symptoms for a significant amount of time, even for weeks following the practice. Flow with these following yoga poses to ease back pain either in sequence, or by incorporating them as you see fit into your daily routine.
You May Like: Yoga Mat Carrier Strap
Stretch Your Upper Back With Yoga Blocks Video
Here is a video for visual learners.
What do you think of this way of stretching your upper back? Is there another way that you can place your blocks to stretch your upper back? Let us know in the comments below.
Thank you for reading this article. If you enjoy the information supplied, please consider supporting this website!
Sign up for my newsletter to get more tips for health and happiness! Also, you can find me on , and as Custom Pilates and Yoga.
About Sarah Stockett
Hi, I’m Sarah! I’m a certified Pilates and yoga instructor with a passion for pain relief. I believe you can use simple exercises to relieve your aches + pains. AND, I believe I can teach you how.
Dont Hold Yin Forward Bends With Back Pain
Depending on how your back is and where the injury is please be careful with holding forward bends for a long time in Yin. What I recommend instead is doing the supine poses and alternatives up the wall so that the spine is stable and protected whilst you release the hip and leg muscles, which often pull on the lower back and trigger imbalance in the first place. Twists are also a wonderful release if they feel helpful for your back. Above all take it very cautiously and listen to your bodies feedback.
Also Check: Lululemon Mat Cleaning
Yoga For People With Back Pain
- By Matthew Solan, Executive Editor, Harvard Men’s Health Watch
Whenever my lower back gets tight , I sit on the floor and slowly move into my favorite yoga pose: half lord of the fishes, also known as a seated spinal twist. Just a twist to the left and right never fails to restore my sore back.
Yoga is one of the more effective tools for helping soothe low back pain. The practice helps to stretch and strengthen muscles that support the back and spine, such as the paraspinal muscles that help you bend your spine, the multifidus muscles that stabilize your vertebrae, and the transverse abdominis in the abdomen, which also helps stabilize your spine.
But unfortunately, yoga is also the source of many back-related injuries, especially among older adults. A study published in the November 2016 Orthopedic Journal of Sports Medicine found that between 2001 and 2014, injury rates increased eightfold among people ages 65 and older, with the most common injuries affecting the back, such as strains and sprains. So, the question is this: how can you protect an aching back from a therapy that has the power to soothe it?
Educate And Empower Yourself
It irritates me when I hear people say their back is going out on them, like a lightbulb burning out that they cant control. We have a responsibility to take care of our bodies our backs included and the only way we can do that is through action and education. In fact, the recent report noted that combining education with exercise actually reduced lower back pain risk by an additional 10% versus exercise alone.
Dont hesitate to ask your doctor, trainer, or anyone else involved in supporting your health and wellness, for educational resources. Continue to learn as much as you can and stay aware of the latest research in order to be be proactive in preventing pain. There is no magic pill to create and restore health at least, none better than self-care.
Also Check: Power Yoga Calories
Option : Block Under Sacrum
- Start by lying on your back with your feet on the ground and knees up.
- Keep your feet and knees parallel to one another.
- Press through the inner edges of your feet to lift your hips.
- Place a block on its tall, medium, or low height underneath your sacrum.
- Roll inner thighs down and relax through your gluteals. You can lift heels to create more space in the low back.
- Lift your chin away from your chest slightly and soften through the muscles of your neck and throat.
- Stretch through your belly as you engage through your back and hamstrings. One way to engage your hamstrings is to press down through your heels.
- Hold for 510 breaths.
- To come down, remove the block from underneath you and gently lower, one vertebra at a time.
- Releases hip flexors and low back
- Supports extension of the spine
Overall pose benefits:
Option : Block Between Thighs
- Start on your back with your feet on the ground and knees up.
- Feet and knees should be parallel to one another.
- Place a block on the narrowest setting between the inner thighs, as close to the pubis as is comfortable.
- Drive the heels of the feet into the mat to tuck the tailbone toward your feet, scooping the low belly in and sealing your low back on the mat.
- Squeeze block between your thighs as you lift the hips.
- Roll your inner thighs down and lengthen the tailbone toward the backs of the knees.
- Reach your knees forward, contracting your thighs and softening your gluteals a little.
- Draw your heels back simultaneously, engaging your hamstrings. Try lifting your heels to create more space in the low back.
- Flex your toes toward your shins while keeping the soles of your feet grounded to contract your shins up toward your kneecaps.
- You can try grabbing the outside edges of the mat for support, place your hands down on the mat, or interlace your fingers under your low back, creating a shoulder shelf for the heart and chest to rest on.
- Draw your chest toward your chin, and your chin away from chest.
- Hold for 510 breaths.
- To come down, gently lower, one vertebra at a time.
Also Check: How Long Should I Hold A Yoga Pose