Lower back pain is a condition that affects millions of people around the world. The causes may differ but the results can often be the same, nagging pain that lasts for months or years, with medication often required for any significant relief.
But treating lower back pain can quickly become a dangerous endeavor. It doesn’t have to be, however, and with the help of a consistent yoga and stretching regimen, you could come out on the other side of back pain.
This may sound hard to believe, but the SWS Method designed by Shannon Watson, RN of SWatson Solutions, LLC is based on science and supported by numerous studies supporting the benefits of yoga stretching, and mindfulness.
For a breakdown of the effects of back pain and how the SWS Method can help, continue reading.
How Lower Back Pain Affects Us
According to the Hospital for Special Surgery, the world's number one hospital for orthopedics , 2 out of every 10 adults suffer from lower back pain throughout their lives, and it is the most common reason for an orthopedic visit. According to the National Institutes of Health , Americans spend over $50 billion dollars on lower back pain annually, and “it is the most common cause of job-related disability.”
Although these are devastating statistics, the good news is that for 9 out of 10 of these patients, the pain is acute. This means that with proper treatment, the pain will be able to go away within a few days or a week. However, for those experiencing chronic back pain, treatment, and relief, are much more of a journey.
There is a wide range of actions that people can take in order to seek relief for their chronic back pain, and some even go to dangerous lengths for just a small period of comfort. Ideally, the solution to chronic back pain can be healthy and beneficial to the rest of the body as well, and one form of relief that fulfills these criteria is yoga and stretching.
How Yoga and Stretching can Improve Lower Back Pain
One of the best techniques for reducing acute and long-term back pain is stretching. Studies linked to yoga for back pain relief have found that stretching may be the most beneficial exercise technique for reducing pain, by combining elements of physical posture, breathing techniques, and meditation.
One such study led by Dr. Karen J. Sherman of the Group Health Research Institute in Seattle wanted to investigate if yoga could really help reduce back pain. The study involved participants who had back pain lasting for at least 3 months, and the participants would interact with the study for at least 3 months.
Some participants received guided yoga and stretching instruction, others received a self-care book that suggested lifestyle changes. By the end of the 3 month period and extending even further beyond that, the researchers found that those who participated in yoga and stretching exercises reported less back pain or nonexistent back pain, and reduced need for medication.
Here are the findings directly quoted from the lead researcher Dr. Karen J. Sherman:
“Our results suggest that both yoga and stretching can be good, safe options for people who are willing to try physical activity to relieve their moderate low back pain,” Sherman says. She adds that it's important for classes to be taught by instructors who can tailor the difficulty and adjust stretches and postures to accommodate participants' physical limitations.”
How the SWS Method can Help Ease Lower Back Pain
Shannon Watson, Registered Nurse and Founder of the SWatson Solutions method has studied the root causes of lower back pain throughout her career and designed a program that tackles chronic lower back pain head-on through stretching and mindfulness in a gentle and restorative approach.
The SWS Method is a stretch therapy program different from any other workout or yoga program that has come before. Grounded in scientific data, the program considers the effects that yoga, mindfulness, and breathwork have on neuromuscular systems and cognition, with the goal of optimizing functioning. Within Watson’s program, individuals focus on stretch and deep relaxation to decrease stress and inflammation within the body. The program additionally combines many elements of athletic recovery, including mobility training, myofascial release, compression, sleep optimization, coupled with proper nutrition and hydration this becomes an all encompassing approach to mind-body health and athletic performance.
The core tenets of this system include slow stretch exercises done alongside Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction techniques to help restore and optimize the body’s neuromuscular and cognitive functions. These terms refer to making the body’s muscles and nerves work as effectively as possible, and in turn seeing improved brain function in regard to judgment, focus, memory, perception, reasoning, emotional regulation and the supporting physical movement.
These positive effects from the SWS Method are consistent when the stretches are focused on addressing the areas of the body contributing to lower back pain especially, and clients who have partaken in the program before have reported reduced and even complete disappearance of the back pain that they once suffered from.
Some SWS Stretches to try for Lower Back Pain
Stretches are only one part of the SWS program, and joining the program will enable you to access the full suite of benefits. However, if you don’t yet have access to the program, or want to see how some of the stretches can work for you, here’s a list of some SWS stretches you can try right now.
Lay down on your stomach and place your forearms on the ground beside you. Slowly push up, lifting your head to the sky, so that your shoulders and upper back are off the ground. Breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth, and hold for 30 seconds.
Seated Spinal Twist:
Sit down with your legs crossed, and your back straight, in a comfortable seated position. Slowly twist to the left, placing your right arm on your left thigh and pushing to increase your twist. Hold this stretch for a few seconds while breathing out, before breathing in and slowly switching to your right side. Place your left hand on your right thigh and push to extend your twist again, while breathing out. Repeat 10 times total with continuous breaths.
Begin on all fours, your back in a centered, middle position, with your head facing forward. Breathing out, slowly tuck your chin to chest, rounding your upper back, so your back is arched like a “cat.” Starting to breathe in, slowly drop your belly button towards the floor, lift your chin and look up, moving through the middle-back position, and into a gentle backbend. This is “cow.” Repeat this stretch 15 times slowly, continuing to breathe in and out.
Lay down on your back, with your knees bent so the bottoms of your feet are on the ground. Slowly breathe out while lifting your hips up as far up as you can, while keeping your neck, upper body, and arms on the ground. Breathe in as you bring your hips back to the ground. Repeat this stretch 15 times slowly, continuing to breathe in and out.
Learn more about SWatson Solutions:
The programs provided by SWatson Solutions are meant to support a healthier mind and body for all participants. With yoga, stretching, mindfulness, and other techniques, you can empower your body to feel and perform its best.