There are limitations to conventional medical treatments of chronic pain. Of course, there are a variety of pharmaceutical approaches to pain management, but almost all of them have negative side effects, including dizziness, nausea, and the risk of developing a dependence on the medicine.
Because conventional medicine does not always have effective responses, Complementary and Alternative Medicine is an important option for many who suffer from chronic pain.
Benefits of Yoga for Chronic Pain
Yoga is an effective treatment for chronic pain because it works both the mind and the body. As a low-impact exercise, it provides gentle stretching that can ease stiffness and pain. As a meditation procedure, it helps to keep the mind alert and calm, and reduce the perception of pain.
Studies have shown that yoga is “effective in the treatment of chronic pain, including osteoarthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, and fibromyalgia. In the studies reviewed, patients saw significant reductions in joint pain, muscle stiffness, and overall physical discomfort while greatly improving their flexibility, range of motion, and muscle strength.”
Keep in mind that for beginning practitioners, it’s always best to get experienced guidance when trying yoga. Proper form is important, and watching videos can only take you so far. If you have a serious condition such as disc diseases, you should also check with your doctor before trying yoga. If you can’t do the poses by yourself, pillows or foam supports may make it easier.
Cobra pose. This is a simple exercise that can help greatly with lower back pain. Lie facedown on the floor with your legs stretched straight back and toes pointed backward. Place your forearms on the floor and push upward, lifting your chest but keeping your thighs and groin on the floor. Don’t forget to breathe! Lift as far as you can without pain, hold the pose for a few seconds, and slowly lower again.
Dolphin pose. This is an easier variation of the well-known downward dog pose that does not stress the arms as much. It still provides a strong full-body stretch that loosens and strengthens the legs and core. Start on your hands and knees, with knees directly under your hips and forearms flat on the floor. Press your toes to the floor and lift your buttocks toward the ceiling. Straighten your legs if you can, but keeping them bent is okay. Keep your upper body straight as well — don’t flex your back or push your head into the floor. Hold for a few second and then lower again.
Butterfly pose. This stretch helps painful hips and backs. Sit on the floor with your legs in front of you. Press the soles of your feet together and keep them together as you move your knees apart, lowering them as far to the floor as you can (but don’t force it!). Hold as long as comfortable, and then raise your knees again.
Mountain pose with shoulder stretch. For shoulder/neck pain. Stand straight upright and reach your right hand back to the back of your neck, and your left hand around your back. Move the hands together slowly and clasp them, keeping your spine straight. (If you can’t clasp your hands, hold a strap or rope between them.) Then slowly lift your right elbow as far as you can and hold a few seconds. Release and repeat on the other side.
Supine torso twist. Another pose useful for back pain. Lie flat on your back with your arms out in a T and your feet on the floor, knees up. Slowly lower your knees toward the left side. Go as far as you can without lifting your shoulders from the floor. Hold for a few seconds, then return to center and repeat the exercise toward the right side.
To learn more about how to manage and relieve chronic pain, contact the Pain Care Clinic of Idaho at 208-939-3750 or visit paincareclinicofidaho.com.