Do you suffer from lower back pain and you never had a back injury? You are not alone. Lower back pain can be triggered by many different causes. Common causes include weak core, tight hips, and tight hamstrings. Practicing yoga regularly will help.
Some of these are great after a hike to stretch out those hard-worked muscles and all of these poses are great for injury prevention. I have been practicing yoga since 2001 and these are some of my personal all-time favorites. I highly recommend these with a warm Epsom salt bath after a big hike.
Let’s take a look at the poses. Take 10 deep breaths in each pose unless noted otherwise.
The plank pose primarily strengthens your core. A weak core causes bad posture and leads to back pain. Hikers carry a heavy backpack up and down the slopes mile after mile. Core strength may just be the most important strength training you need to do as a hiker. Try to hold the pose for 60 seconds or as long as you can.
If you have hand or wrist issues, try the pose on your forearm instead. You can hold your hands together if that feels good for you.
When you are ready to incorporate other variations, add the side plank or the dolphin plank to your routine.
This is my all-time favorite hip opener. It feels amazing. The pigeon pose is a great post-hike as well as after sitting for a long period of time. Do the pigeon pose to open up those tight hips and loosen up the glutes. Do the pose for each side. After suffering Piriformis Syndrome 8 years ago due to stationary work life and long commutes, this and the incline figure four pose are my must-dos.
If your hip doesn’t reach the floor comfortably, sit on a blanket. Try the pigeon pose in a sitting position without bending forward. Make sure the hips are square and you are not tilting to one side.
3. Hero Pose
If you have knee issues, please skip this.
This pose stretches the hips, thighs, knees, ankles, and feet. A great pose for tired legs. This pose is known to be beneficial if you have flat feet as well as strengthens foot arches. I feel the most stretch on the top of my foot, ankle, and shin. Ladies, if you wear heels often, you will enjoy this stretch. Post-hike, definitely yes!
If you have a super tight lower body, sit on a block or a blanket and keep your back straight with the natural curve.
4. Downward-Facing Dog
As one of the most widely recognized yoga poses, the downward-facing dog is a rejuvenating ultimate all-body stretch. It strengthens the entire back. Try to push your thigh bones toward the hamstrings. Your tight calves and upper back will especially enjoy this stretch after post-hike. At first, try bending one leg at a time so you can get a deeper stretch.
In the beginning, it might be hard to plant the heels firmly on the floor. If your heels are lifted, don’t worry about it. Make sure your back is flat and not hunched. Eventually, your heels will touch the floor as you get more flexible.
5. Single-Legged Forward Bend
Although Xena finds this pose boring and she is falling asleep here, it’s not boring at all. In fact, it’s one of the most challenging poses if you have tight hamstrings like I do. Only if I had her flexibility… I personally love this pose for the hamstrings but it stretches your spine, shoulders, wrists, and hips as well. This pose is known to be beneficial if you have flat feet. Do the pose for each side.
6. Bound Angle Pose Forward Bend
Another great hip opener. Try to keep the heels close to your body. If you have the flexibility, bend forward until you feel the stretch in your hips.
If you have super tight hips, try to keep the heels close to your body and hold on to the ankles without bending forward.
Although I only listed the focused muscle group for each pose, all of these poses work on multiple areas and your entire body will benefit from them.
During my practice, I try to listen to my body and observe instead of focusing on reaching a goal. Never force a pose by trying to do it exactly like a picture you see online or in a magazine. Instead, adjust each pose for your body until you gain the flexibility and/or strength to do the full pose. You should never feel pain while doing a pose. Try to notice the difference between discomfort and pain. If you can’t maintain deep breathing calmly, you are forcing the pose.
When you inhale, visualize your breath is moving the healing energy to the challenging area in your body that needs your special attention. Hold your breath there for a few seconds before you let it out slowly.
We feel balanced when our body, mind, and spirit are in harmony. When we feel balanced, we feel positive and optimistic. One day, that tight muscle will give in and let go of its tight grip. You will feel your body opening up. Your body will surprise you with the flexibility and strength you never had before. Practice these poses regularly and keep the injuries at bay. Namaste.
Did you find this post helpful or do you have a question? Please let me know in the comment section below. Thanks!