Individualizing Yoga Practice to Relieve Neck and Back Pain | Lifemoves

Individualizing Yoga Practice to Relieve Neck and Back Pain

Last month I was challenged by a client to develop an active rehabilitation program that they could do at home as part of a regular Yoga practice. Finding a solution to this was important for me the Kinesiologist and the client because doing so would mean adherence to the exercise rehabilitation program, therefore a greater chance of successful recovery from their soft-tissue injuries.

Communication, as within any Client-Kinesiologist relationship, was very important in achieving success. This client chose me mainly because I practice Yoga on a semi-regular basis and understand the basic principles, limitations and flow of Yoga within the context of soft-tissue rehabilitation.

While an excellent Yoga instructor will give participants modifications for their limitations, it is still very difficult to follow an individualized program in a class format. Our solution was for me to first teach the client the movements I wanted them to achieve, then to explain the principles of how to elongate and re-balance using the Stretch to Win Method. 

During each session the client demonstrated a series of poses that they thought would achieve our desired outcome. From there we developed an exercise/pose order that would flow while accomplishing our goal.I find it rewarding to assist clients who are curious about movement, have the desire to get each movement correct, who want to learn more about their body and who diligently follow the instructions I give them. We discovered an excellent Yoga Anatomy book with illustrations showing which muscles are being strengthened and stretched during each pose. At home, the client researched and marked the poses they thought would be appropriate; during the next session we discussed the merits of each one.

By correcting each pose the client started to develop a deeper relationship with how to move properly to alleviate their back and neck pain. We succeed in reducing the intensity and frequency of their headaches, neck and mid-back pain because we ensured that we communicated clearly. The program also balanced the way they were psychologically motivated with their physiological rehabilitation needs.

Many people suffer with neck, upper back and shoulder pain because of poor posture. Chronic tight chest rolls the shoulder forward and up, which also pushes the head forward. There is a reflex that keeps us looking forward, so when the head pokes forward we also get tightness just below the skull.

In our rehabilitation sessions we focused on the cause of their soft-tissue pain, rather than chasing the pain. Choose postures to open up the front of the body, bring the collarbone back down and re-align the head over the shoulders. If you sit a lot for work, include stretches and postures to open the hip flexors.

Discover how Fascial Stretch Therapy and Yoga will combine to give you relief from soft-tissue pain (neck, hip, knee, back) and get you moving more freely.


Alfred Ball

CEO | Practicing Kinesiologist | Certified Fascial Stretch Therapist. He founded Lifemoves in 2007. He has been a Practicing Kinesiologist and Certified Strength and Conditioning Coach with the NSCA for over 15 years. When he isn't helping people regain their strength and confidence to move with ease he is hanging out with his wife and young son, writing, or training for his next endurance running race. His big audacious goal is to qualify for the Boston Marathon.

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