As we get older, it’s easier to forget to stand and sit with integrity in the body. In all the weird ways we lean and slump and hunch, the body is out of alignment, gravity is in charge instead of our muscles, and all the upper body weight dumps into the lower back, giving us pain.
To stand with integrity, we must stand and sit like we’re in mountain pose, all the time. While we're talking to our colleague by the coffee machine, when we’re in line at the grocery store, when we’re cooking, ALL the time. A solid mountain pose requires a few specific actions in the body. Feet are planted, hip distance apart, on the ground. Knees are not locked but loose. Tailbone points down to the ground, which means sit bones (those bony parts of the butt that you sit on) point down. If you don’t know where your sit bones are, grab your butt and find them! Lastly, stomach muscles are turned on, shoulders are back and down away from the ears, chin is up.
Another thing that will help is doing abs. Yay abs! When the lower back hurts, the opposite side of your body is telling you it's weak, e.g. the stomach muscles. When you strengthen your abdominals, you’ll strengthen your back, because it all works together. Some awesome ab exercises are:
- Abs with a mat - put a block (or rolled-up mat) between the thighs snug against the pelvic bone, clasp hands behind head, lift knees above the hips, shins parallel to the ground, feet active. Inhale press lower back into the floor, hold the breath curl tailbone up and squeeze block, exhale lift head and shoulders up and pull belly down. Inhale lay head down, release tailbone, press low back into the floor. Repeat 5-10 times.
- Cobra pushups - put a block (or rolled-up mat) between the thighs snug against the pelvic bone, lie on belly, place hands on floor under shoulders and tuck elbows in towards ribs. Tuck tailbone down towards feet, pressing pubic bone into the floor, squeeze block, and inhale press into cobra while pulling the ribcage forward along the mat. Exhale lower down while pulling chest and ribs forward. You’ll feel some great tractioning and decompressing the lower back.
Lastly, lunges! Lunges stretch the psoas muscle, which connects the femur to the lumbar spine. When it’s tight, it can compress the spine and create pain in the lower back. So do all the lunges, all the time. Lizard is my favorite, but find yours and do it for 5 breaths on both sides, as often as you can.
By Fae Leslie Hoffman; All Rights Reserved @2019