A flat back and a posterior pelvic tilt: it’s a posture you often see in men. As the lower back’s natural curve disappears over the years, it becomes stiff. This can lead to low back pain, as Gert van Leeuwen explains in part 4 of the anatomy section in Yoga Magazine.
When it comes to chronic pain, low back pain is THE number 1 complaint. Something frequently goes wrong when we use our backs. Your lower back is hollow by nature. When it flattens, your back can’t properly transfer energy and movement from one part of your body to the other.
We have two lower vertebrae in our pelvis, ending in our sacrum. In yoga classes, you often hear that you have to tilt your pelvis. But the well-intended ‘tuck your tailbone in’ actually destabilizes your lower back by making you lose the ability to stretch properly. Good movement transfer also doesn’t start in your pelvis but in your diaphragm. Your lower ribs bring your diaphragm into position. You can lift your ribs or move them toward your stomach. The difficulty lies in that last movement. If you bring your ribs down, your lower back should ideally stretch. In fact, through that movement, the force that resides within your multifidus muscles (the deepest muscles in your lower back) is automatically activated. It’s a force that doesn’t wear out, meaning that, used well, you can effortlessly work behind a computer for years. But when being tensed, which this article is about, that hollow shape is no longer present.
Men especially often develop a so-called sway-back posture. The three lower back vertebrae, that protrude above the pelvis, are bent (often due to too many sit-ups). This can result in stiffness, or even in a hernia. In addition, the two vertebrae in the pelvis, which compensate for the shortage of movement, are often in far too deep. This causes too much movement within the lower back, which can lead to irritation in the joints of the spine and cause sciatica-like constrictions. People who have this form of low back problems often complain of fatigue. They don’t like strolling, shopping, or visiting musea. Women often develop their own variant of these low back problems and this will be discussed next time.
Props like the roll help you to reach parts of your body that aren’t easy to get to, not by yourself and not in yoga postures. When you use the pressure of your body weight and gravity, and synchronize your breathing, to relax the muscles between your shoulder blades, you can restore mobility in your vertebrae.
Are you interested in yoga and would you like to experience the benefits of yoga yourself? You can! Sign up for a trial class at Yoga Ommen and discover what yoga can do for you! The exercises are easy to learn and (with a bit of practice) can also be done at home.
Gert van Leeuwen is the founder of the Critical Alignment Yoga and Therapy Institute. Irene Vos was trained by this institute as a Critical Alignment Yoga teacher and a Critical Alignment Yoga therapist.