My junior year of college I injured the soft tissue of my lower back. It was a very common lower back injury, twisting while the spine was loaded. In this case, I was attempting to push over a trashcan filled with ice water as part of clean up as a Student Athletic Trainer. In one instant I knew that I had done something bad, but didn’t have “time” to take care of it. As I ignored the pain and the growing tension throughout the tissues that supported my spine, I developed Sciatic Nerve pain. It took a few weeks of therapy to decrease the persistent pain, and my prescribed exercise plan included lots of spinal stabilization and core work.

Yoga Tune Up® is the perfect answer for recovery after back injury. Once you no longer have pain, it is time to rehabilitate the muscle. If you imagine your body as a house, any injury is like a disruption to your foundation. You can’t just rub some dirt in it, but must go back to basics to rebuild your base. After any soft tissue injury, our body and brain subconsciously create a muscle “cast” by tightening all of the surrounding connective tissue and muscle to prevent further injury. In some cases, the brain cuts off communication with the tissues to prevent the muscle from contracting and potential further injury.

Learn more about our pain pain solutions.

Read a great article about lower back pain.

Here’s a great exercise for strengthening the lower back and core (also available on the Quick Fix for Lower Back Video):

Alexandra Ellis

Alexandra Ellis is an Integrated Yoga Tune Up® and The Roll Model® Method Teacher Trainer, RYPT-500 and founder of AE Wellness. Her teaching and studies focus on injury prevention, rehabilitation and wellness, inspired by her studies at UC Davis where she earned a BS in Exercise Biology. With a strong background and keen interest in anatomy and physiology, Alex strives to empower people to improve their health and well being through a personal movement practice and enhanced body awareness.

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Samantha

Thanks for this! I am already obsessed with your YouTube videos about rolling, strengthening and stretching! You make people realize that it is possible to recover from a low back injury!

Cindy Lou Kelley

Who doesn’t have low back pain at some point in their lives? I love this pose and plan on teaching it in my next class.

Lucy Beiler

I have lived through numerous “muscle casts” and only once I started using the Yoga Tune Up Therapy balls did I understand the depth of the tightness in my muscles and surrounding tissues that I had come to regard as my, new normal. Once I found those blind spots, which revealed either as pain or numbness or somewhere in between, I could begin to create and feel supple strength as the normal I choose to live with. It is really amazing how our bodies can compensate to protect from further injury, yet it doesn’t have to stay that way using… Read more »

Yvonne Cone

Alex, what a reminder! I needed to hear that again about other muscles tightening around the injured area, so we (I) may feel more pain or start to compensate. Ironic, cause we talked a bit about this in class today re: back of the knee. Jill’s videos are awesome. It can feel scary as a teacher or a student to even do a simple pose on the back because we aren’t sure if the shoulder should lift or if we are twisting too much, but she seems to say that as long as you’re engaged and not using momentum, allow… Read more »

Stephanie

Since taking the Yoga Tune Up Level 1 training in June, I am looking at and feeling my body in a whole new way. I no longer ignore pain and tension and am learning/working to “rebuild” my foundation. Thank you for sharing!

Josh

Protective tension in tissues is important to understand. but not just in the acute stage, but also its role in potentially creating chronic pain or movement dysfunction. I think the nature of chronic pain is often under appreciated when linking it to any acute injury. The body can hold on to and store tension in tissues YEARS later, and we often miss the boat on old injuries being a potential for movement capability. Just some food for thought 🙂

Dianne

Ahhh, revolved abdominal pose. And the reminder to rebuild my foundation. Love this visual and love this pose as it really helps remind my core and low back how to work together to regain strength and ease of movement. Thanks for the wealth of knowledge you bring to your teaching!

Scott McKee

YTU is my go-to solution — and recommendation for friends! — either to correct and alleviate lower back pain or, better still, prevent it!

Robin

This is such a great example of how an injury or pain that is ignored can lead to something worse if not taken care of timely and properly. Yoga tune-up poses and therapy ball work have provided much help for me in that past after ignoring an injury thinking it would just eventually go away. Thanks for the great article!

Lita Remsen

Thank you for sharing your story. Stories are always helpful for learning. My daughter hurt her knee last winter and that idea of the brain telling muscles to work or not work is so true and I had not realized it until then. When she got hurt, her quad muscles just went weak. The doctor says it happened so that the strong quad muscles don’t pull the knee cap out of whack when the structures around the knee were compromised. I didn’t realized that the body works in this way! So smart!

Simran Khalsa

Just did this today in YTU TT level 1, so powerful and corrective for ignored, weak muscles, I love having something that points out the weakness, while correctly strengthening them.

Serge Goyette

This is a great video and a great exercise, one of my preferred on for my lower back., makes me feel so good thanks

Aracelly

I too hurt my back, but it happened when I was 16 years old and I constantly have to work to keep the fascia from accumulating in that region and to keep the muscles strong. After I had my daughter about 2 years ago, my back felt weaker than ever. It was as if all the work I had done was erased by the labor and the increased laxity I had from the pregnancy resulting in some serious instability. This week however I was delighted to find exercises that challenged me but allowed me to use muscles that have been… Read more »

Kerry Cruz

I’ve suffered with low back pain for the past 5 years on and off. That on and off had very short intermittent periods. Having two kids and having to lift and bear weight on my back was painful and depressing. Driving just made me irritable. Today in YTU training we worked on the QL and muscles of the lower back and for the first time I feel like I’ve got a new back. It’s restored my hope that my body can get to that place of happy. Thank you!

Victoria Ryder-Burbidge

After each of my indoor cycling classes, I take about 15 minutes to strengthen the core before our final stretch. As a cyclist, the torso is in flexion (however small) for a long period of time. It is essential that the core must have enough endurance for the ride. This exercise is so great to expose any imbalances from side to side as well as creating strength through out the whole circumference of the torso. As importantly, the dynamic quality of the movement creates both strength and flexibility throughout a whole range of motion, counteracting the stationary quality of riding… Read more »

Taylor

When I injured myself last winter and endured sciatica. As a previously fairly pain free and agile athlete, I asked myself what I did or was doing differently to incur the injury? At the time I was bussing in a restaurant 5 days a week, teaching power yoga, but only practicing Bikram yoga. As a former “Yoga Sculpt” instructor I realized my body was missing all the core and spine stabilization that I used to teach 5x a week. After I healed I quickly suggested that my studio offer ‘Yogalates’ and I teach 🙂 I’ve been sciatica free ever since.… Read more »

Dawn

Such a simple pose, and yet still challenging, and I didn’t even injure my back! Thanks for sharing your story and your process on how you waited for the pain to subside and then you strengthened. I have the tendency to want to power through, and justify that I’m taking my body into my own hands. This post reminded me that softness is sometimes what we need to start off with.

Sandy Gross

I love that Yoga Tune Up asks you to use your own body dramas as opportunities to awaken to the possibility of a new relationship with yourself and the areas that have been injured or somehow causing pain. Alex, you took a painful injury, and with time and your continued willingness to not only seek out a PT, but you went beyond and decided to now teach others how to prevent this kind of injury from happening. YTU is such a hopeful movement practice! Thanks to all of you spreading the good YTU word.

Heather

Hi. You stated that you did physical therapy first and then did strengthening exercises. Are you then referring to starting revolved abdominal pose after the pain subsides or to assist in relieving the pain.

Tina Broome

Hey Alex,
well put! Given that my biggest blind spot isn’t necessarily physical, i’m inspired by your example of seeking PT for your back pain. Great for taking the initiative rather than just ignoring it.

Kathy

Such a simple, but profound move. The key is to maintain focus: keeping the knees stacked together; and controlling the descent of the flexed thighs instead of allowing them to ‘klunk” to the floor, by keeping the core engaged.

Nikki Wong

click, clack, snap, crack goes my spine and every other joint in my body. In the short time I’ve been in YTU training, those noises have minimized and I love this sequence in the video because it not only relieves the lower back by lengthening that area but it also told me that my core isn’t as strong as I thought it was. So many blindspots to uncover. So excited to have found YTU.

Kimberly Lou

That’s so true. So many people deny that there is anything even wrong. So critical to lay a solid foundation and most importantly… listen to your body.

Laurie Streff Kostman

Thanks for the great analogy of how the body is like a house and our injuries affect the very foundation it stands on! I also like the explanation of how our bodies form a muscle ‘cast’ around soft tissue injury. As someone who suffers from lower back pain I am increasingly aware of how important it is to have strong muscle surrounding that area, mainly core / low back muscles, to aid in stabilizing all movements throughout the day, and even while in static positions like sitting. I also love this simple (but not neccesarily easy to perform!) dynamic exercise… Read more »

elizabethW

If I had a dollar for every student who ignored pain after an injurious moment (Tipping over a trash can etc.)or who say they don’t have time, or who say they will deal with it later, I would be a very rich woman (Maybe not rich but I could buy lunch!). That speaks to our cultural approach to injury, pain and self-care. People think denying and ignoring will make everything better. Good thing we are here as a YTU army to guide them out of injury and to teach them a thing or two about self -care. Accidents do happen.… Read more »

Ben Lavictoire

This article really hits the nail on the head in how YTU is fundamentally different from other modalities. We learn to focus on the underlying causes and fix the foundation instead of just relieving the symptomatic effects of our pain. Steeve said it best prevention is the key

Steeve

When you speak of the subconscious muscle “cast” the body creates and the possibility of the brain cutting off communication with the injured tissue to prevent further potential injury, I can’t help but think about my Psychology training. “My Man” Sigmund would have called it Repression. I’ll leave it at that when quoting Freud. That said, the body is so elegant in how it deals with adversity, it boggles my mind. On that note, YTU is a fantastic recovery tool for many soft tissue injury. So much so, that I like to use YTU as part of my daily recovery… Read more »

Judy Swens

I think it’s so very important to rehabilitate the body otherwise it will be broken down and useless… I appreciate the explanation of hoe your body will seize up preventing movement of a muscle after an inury as a protection mechanism… And that to heal it must be moved… ” movement is medicine” as stated by Jill.

Jona Joyce

I was assisting a client with horrible vulture posture and jacked up my low back RIGHT before my level 1 with Jill at Kripalu. I was miserable. To make matters worse I learned the revolving abdominal series in the Core Immersion early in the year and I make sure my clients do it weekly. Of course, I did it a few times, felt good, stopped doing it and disregarded my the importance of my posture while working with others and BOOM! In a few days and after the tissue chilled out a bit, I lightly did a counter rotation version… Read more »

Bobbi McKissick

Hi Alex, Thank you for sharing! I’ve had pain with my lower back before too. What I learned from my experience and from your blog is how essential it is to strengthen your core which are all the muscles, tissues, and structures of the body’s torso which mobilize and stabilize the spine and support your lower back. The spinal twist exercise in the video was the exact one I did in my current Yoga Tune Up Anatomy workshop I am in. I found more engagement in my core as I kept both my legs together and keeping my hip joints… Read more »

Marilyn gibson

i have suffered with sciatica for decades. I have used ever modallity known to reduce the pain and yoga to keep stretcheed out. I am currenttly in YTU training and for the first time in decades I am pain free. Our bodies are the medicine we have and we must treat with reverant respect and conttinual self care so it will continue to serve us pain free wiith free range of motion. Thank you for sharing your story of how one simple act hurt your back and how you recovered.

Lauren C

I love this exercise. My father has severe lower back pain. I see him do stretches sometimes that concern me because I’m not sure if he’s going to hurt himself further. I will show him this exercise to strengthen his lower back and core. His job requires him to drive everywhere so he is always sitting in a car. Since he doesn’t have any strength in his back or core he is most likely sitting with bad posture and irritating nerves. Thank you for posting!

will cristobal

it’s unfortunate that some of us tend to “not take care it” when it comes to compromising our wellness. as a power yoga teacher, i get students who could use a break from shoulder exercise who rather “push through it” even when we clearly suggest it. with yoga tune up, i am looking at injury with a new set of eyes.

Matthew

So true Alexandra! I myself have incurred injuries that I did not properly address outright. Going back to the foundation is absolutely necessary if you want those injuries to not only heal properly and in a timely manner, but also to avoid development of compensation syndromes elsewhere. I love this YTU exercise at its laser beam focus also addresses building up the core around my own low back injury!

Cheryl

I just got vicarious pleasure from watching this video for the lower back — can’t wait to get on the floor and do it for myself!

Meet Your Multifidi | Yoga Tune Up

[…] you know that after your body is injured, it does everything in its power to not only protect the injury, but to also forget it? Without you even being aware, your body begins to tighten the surrounding […]

Shawn

Great Video! Lower back can be a serious issue for someone like me who works at a computer all day. I am always trying to be aware of my posture and make sure I stand and walk around frequently. Plus, of course, I do yoga regularly.

SherriS

Thanks for posting this article and video. Many people who suffer from lower back pain do not realize how imperative it is to also have a strong core. Having stronger ab muscles, you’ll be less likely to injure, re-injure or strain your back muscles. I like to think of your abs are the front anchor of your spine. When the abs are weak, your back muscles will compensate and have to work harder to support the spine. I really appreciated the exercise displayed. It’s attainable for most and can be done anywhere. Plus, while it strengthens the abs/transverse muscle –… Read more »

Alyssa

Great video and article! I also suffered from some foundational injuries. I would have lots of pain in yoga class and in running. With the help of an Iyengar teacher I realized I was dropping the arches of my feet, so that there was uneven pressure on my ankle bone and my legs “leaned” inwards, Putting my tibia out of line with my fibula. With practice I’ve learned to stand evenly on the tripods of my feet and haven’t had the same pain in my legs since! Good alignment is good therapeutics and it definitely starts at the foundation.

kristin

Awesome! This exercise is so hard for my figure skaters! Great post.