If You’re A Man with Back Pain You Need to Give Yoga A Fair Chance: REAL MEN DO YOGA
This is a Guest Post by Daniel Singleton, from London, England.
Now unless you’re one of the lucky ones you’ve probably experienced back pain at some point, or at the very least know people that have.
As it’s a huge problem that 80% of Americans are expected to suffer from during their lifetime.
And when it strikes it can be completely debilitating as it stops you from doing things you enjoy and makes everyday tasks a real struggle.
Back pain can really affect your quality of life and have a big impact on not just your physical health but also on your mental and emotional health as well.
So, it’s important to live a lifestyle that minimizes the risk of developing back pain and one of the best ways you can do this is by staying active.
By keeping your body strong, fit and flexible through exercise you are giving your back the support and protection it needs to be able to carry out your daily activities without succumbing to pain.
And for an activity that is perfect for improving your strength, balance and flexibility look no further than yoga.
As the stretches and postures involved are great for conditioning your body and keeping your back healthy and happy.
However, despite these benefits there remains a stigma in society among men that make them reluctant to try yoga.
But by giving in to this stigma they are shooting themselves in the foot with regards to being able to keep their back free from pain.
Why Are Some Men So Against the Idea of Yoga?
So, what exactly is it that some guys have against yoga?
I think it stems from the misconception in certain parts of society that yoga is a ‘girly’ activity and not very masculine.
And the fact that many yoga classes are still dominated by women just reinforces this idea.
Also, men seem to think that yoga doesn’t give you a ‘proper’ workout and that you can’t build muscle tone from it, both of which are false.
And they worry that their friends would make fun of them if they found out they took a yoga class.
This is especially the case among men that work or socialize in male-dominated environments such as factories, construction sites, and sports dressing rooms.
But they need to get over this stigma because practicing yoga has been found in many scientific studies to be really helpful for people with back pain.
And the irony is that men that work these types of manual jobs and have this stigma are prime candidates for developing this pain!
So, if you’re reading this and are curious about yoga but still a bit hesitant to give it a try then let me attempt to persuade you.
Because it can keep you free from the dreaded back pain in a number of ways and I’ll take you through each of them now.
1. It Improves Flexibility and Relieves Pressure on Your Back
One of the best things about yoga is how flexible it makes you.
As when working through the stretches and postures you are both lengthening and strengthening your muscles while also taking your joints through their whole range of motion.
And this is great news for your back.
Because staying loose and flexible like this gives you a nicely balanced body that can relieve any pressure you come under as you go about your daily life.
So, your back doesn’t have to work as hard and won’t become tense and strained as the day goes on.
Meaning you can stay relaxed and free from any pain and tension.
2. It Gives You A Strong Core That Supports and Protects Your Spine
Keeping your core muscles strong and healthy is really important if you want to avoid developing back pain.
Because it’s these deep-lying muscles that support and protect your spine as you move around.
And if you allow them to weaken then your back will come under increasing strain and pressure.
Making the likelihood of injuries and pain much higher, especially if you work a manual job that involves powerful movements such as lifting and shoveling.
So, you need to work on your core muscles regularly to keep them in tip-top condition and practicing yoga is a great way to do this.
As you need to support your own body weight as you hold each yoga pose and posture.
And this is will help to strengthen your whole body but is especially good for strengthening your core muscles.
So, getting involved with regular yoga sessions will keep your core strong and give your back the support and protection it needs to avoid pain.
3. Yoga Improves Your Posture and Balance
You’ll find that your balance really improves when you get into yoga.
As it trains you to hold your body in a much healthier and more relaxed way that reduces the pressure and strain on your back in particular.
This is a great thing, as sitting, standing, or moving around with a hunched or unbalanced posture can be a major cause of pain and tension.
This puts your body under pressure from the forces of gravity and forces it to compensate, with your back tending to take on most of this burden.
So, maintaining a healthy and balanced posture throughout the day will help to spread this pressure evenly instead.
Meaning your back will feel a lot happier and free as a result.
4. Yoga Increases Circulation and Blood Flow
When your muscles are tight and tense it can cause blockages in your system that hinder your ability to send blood around your body.
And this can be a big cause of aches and pains in your back.
Because it’s through this blood flow that your body can deliver the oxygen and nutrients that your muscles and tissues need to heal and stay healthy.
While also flushing away waste and toxins that can become trapped and cause painful inflammation.
So, when you can’t do either of these things it’s only going to lead to more pain.
Which means you need to work out any tight muscles and what better way to do that than through yoga?
As the deep stretches aligned with controlled breathing will keep your body loose and open up your pathways so blood can circulate freely.
Meaning the muscles and tissues in your back can stay relaxed and healthy.
5. Yoga Is Great for Relieving Stress
It’s easy to feel stressed out and frustrated when you suffer from persistent back pain but you should try to avoid this as much as you can.
Because people tend to hold this stress and tension within their bodies which will just make any aches and pains you are experiencing even worse!
So, you need to find ways to stay calm and relaxed instead so this tension doesn’t build.
And studies have found that practicing yoga is a really helpful activity for relieving stress.
As the combination of stretching and controlled breathing calms your nervous system, slows your heart rate, and relaxes your muscles.
Putting you in a relaxed state and showing stress and tension the door, which is just what you need to maintain a healthier back.
6. You’ll Sleep Well After Yoga
Some of the best sleep I’ve ever experienced have been after an evening yoga class.
As it relaxes your body and mind to the point where you end up in a really blissful and calm state afterward that is ideal for drifting off to sleep.
In fact, it’s so effective that the Harvard Medical School found that 8 weeks of daily yoga practice was enough to help even chronic insomniacs to sleep better!
And being able to sleep well is an important component of maintaining a healthy back.
As it’s during sleep that your body can rest, recover and repair itself from the stresses and strains of the previous day.
So, if you can get into a deep and restorative sleep on a regular basis your muscles will stay healthier and you’ll be much less likely to develop any back pain.
And yoga is a great activity to try if you’re currently struggling to do this.
7. Yoga Gives You an Endorphin Rush!
One of the best parts of exercising for me is the warm and happy feeling you get afterward.
This is down to the endorphins that exercise releases.
So, why wouldn’t you want to give yoga a try when you’ll feel so great afterward?
And the equally good news is that endorphins are the body’s natural painkillers.
So, not only do they make you feel good they’ll also kill your pain too.
A real double whammy against any backaches that might be getting you down.
8. Yoga Gives You A Positive Outlook
Yoga is far more than just physical exercise.
In fact, it can be extremely deep and spiritual once you get into it.
As the slow, controlled breathing and mindful movements of yoga bring you a real sense of peace and calm mentally and emotionally.
And this is great for giving you more confidence in yourself and putting you in a happy and positive frame of mind.
Which is ideal when it comes to dealing with persistent back pain.
Having a ‘can do’ attitude like this helps you to take on more and stay active, improving your quality of life and overall experience.
Rather than letting your pain dominate you.
So, try to get over any male stigma you may have about yoga and give it a go.
As it’s great for keeping your back in tip-top condition, while also being fantastic for your mood and mental health too!
How to Get Started
Now going to your first yoga class as a man can feel a bit daunting.
As you might be worried about not knowing what to do, think you’re too stiff and inflexible to be able to do it, or embarrassed at the thought of trying it out in a room full of women.
Thinking this way is only natural when you step into the unknown, so it’s a good idea to search out a beginner’s yoga class where you can learn the moves and build up your confidence gradually.
And try to find one that specializes in Hatha yoga, as this is the gentlest style of yoga and the easiest to do.
But if you really can’t get over your dread of going to an actual yoga class you can still practice at home.
As there are tons of YouTube yoga videos you can follow along to in your front room without worrying about what anyone is thinking about you.
These are stronger and good for muscle conditioning which you may feel more comfortable with.
Just make sure you have the right equipment that can keep you safe as you practice. The Yoga Force A-Line mat can help to keep your body in the correct alignment.
But whatever you do, don’t let any misconceptions, stigmas or worries put you off from trying yoga.
As it’s an amazing way to keep your back fit and healthy for years to come.
Annie Appleby, of YogaForce, teaches yoga to Professional Athletes.
About the Author
Daniel Singleton is the founder of Back on Site, a website dedicated to helping people fight back against persistent back pain using the latest medical and scientific advice as well as his own personal experiences with the condition.