Your Yoga Prescription: How to relieve back pain

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Tiffany Cruikshank is the smart, cool creator of Yoga Medicine, a method that pairs yoga with holistic health practices to address the modern-life ailments that are constantly creeping up on you—like stress, insomnia, and back pain. We teamed up with her to bring you simple solutions you can really use, in this reoccurring feature.

Whether you have a desk job, repeatedly drag around a 25-pound handbag, have a chronically stressed out lifestyle, or are a victim of all three, many realities of modern life can unfortunately lead to dull (or sharp) back pain that makes daily life really uncomfortable.

“Your muscles shorten up from sitting, which puts strain on the lower back,” explains Yoga Medicine founder Tiffany Cruikshank. (If your pain is serious and doesn’t let up, make sure you see an MD!)

And while Advil will probably help in the short-term, you could also turn to this simple pose and practice Cruikshank recommends to alleviate immediate pain and also strengthen lower back muscles for long-term relief.

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To alleviate back pain, Cruikshank suggests a supine hamstring stretch, which is one pose with three different variations.

“The hip and hamstring pull on the lower back, so this is a nice way to hit all three of those parts,” she explains. Lie flat on your back with a yoga strap in your hand (a bathrobe belt works, too). Bring your right knee to your chest, loop the strap around your foot, and extend the leg.

“The most important thing is not how deep you go but how relaxing it is to the hamstring and back,” Cruikshank advises.

Hold the pose for one minute, then take the strap into your right hand and take the leg over to the right, stretching the inner-thigh and groin muscles. Hold for one minute, then bring the leg back to center and over to the left side for one minute. Then switch legs.

“This should give you an immediate release,” she promises.

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On the holistic side, Cruikshank recommends taking an Epsom salt bath and drinking plenty of water to loosen your muscles.

Muscles require magnesium to relax, and it’s often depleted in people who are stressed,” she explains. “Epsom salt is high in magnesium, so it’s very soothing to the muscles and lower back.” And your body can absorb it through the skin. We know what we’ll be doing tonight.

More Reading
Tiffany Cruikshank wants to write you a yoga prescription
Your Yoga Prescription: How to boost your mood in two easy steps
Your Yoga Prescription: How to get rid of a headache without Advil

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(Photos: Tiffany Cruikshank)

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