Back Pain & Yoga

While massage therapists make a career out of taking care of their clients’ injuries and aches and pains, it’s easy to forget that the very nature of their work can cause their own discomfort. In fact, according to a recent study, 83.9% of the massage therapists who participated experienced on-going back pain.

Because massage therapists spend much of their days on their feet, as well as performing repetitive wrist and hand motions, they are vulnerable to back pain, neck pain, tennis elbow, carpel tunnel, fatigue, and other musculoskeletal conditions. Exercise is one way to strengthen the back muscles, which takes the stress off of the spine. Yoga, when practiced on a regular basis, has proven particularly useful to ease lower back pain and other stressed and strained muscles because the poses release compressed nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissue. Not to mention, yoga addresses the whole person – mind and body – and is a way to connect with emotional imbalances as well.

But not all types of yoga are the same. So it’s important for massage therapists to find the practice that best accommodates their physical and emotional needs. Here are some of the most common types practiced.

Hatha

An active form of yoga that uses a set of poses, or asanas, especially designed to open the spine so energy can move freely.

Vinyasa

Also an active form of yoga is probably the most athletic in nature. The body’s movement and breath are coordinated as you flow through the poses, one after another.

Yin

A passive form of yoga, and is the perfect class for beginners. Most of the poses are done in a seated position, at a slower pace. The poses are held for longer periods of time.

Restorative

Another passive form of yoga, focuses on relaxation. The poses are easier and more relaxing.

Therapeutic

Beneficial for massage therapists who have a chronic condition after years of back issues. It can include a combination of passive yoga forms and breathing and guided meditation techniques.

In addition to the physical benefits like strengthening, stretching, relaxation, improved alignment and balance, practicing yoga on a regular basis can help soothe the body mentally to by reducing stress and enhancing your mood, which are thought to have an influence on pain.