Yin Yoga for Upper Back Pain Relief | 60 mins | Yoga with Dr. Melissa West 420

by Melissa West on January 31, 2018

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Upper Back Pain Relief


Upper Back Pain is probably more accurately represented as upper and middle back pain and can occur anywhere form the base of your neck to the bottom of your rib cage. This part of your back includes your rib cage which attaches to the 12 vertebrae of your spine. It makes up the longest part of your back. The discs that separate each vertebra absorb shock as you move. The muscles and ligaments hold the spine together.

The bones in your upper back are less mobile than your lower back. For good reason too. They keep your upper back stable to protect your heart and lungs. However this does not mean that you do not experience pain in your upper back. Pain can be caused by overuse and strain to the muscles and ligaments that support your upper back. Poor posture from our long hours on screens. Osteoarthritis causes the breakdown of cartilage that cushions the small facet joints of the spine.

While most forms of yoga focus on the superficial muscles, yin yoga focuses on the deeper layers of connective tissues, ligaments, joints and bones. Yin yoga is particularly effective for upper back pain because myofascial pain that affects the connective tissue of the upper back is quite common. Chronic myofascial pain is ongoing or longer lasting pain that can affect the connective tissue or fascia of a muscle or group of muscles.

When you experience chronic myofascial pain in your upper back, neck, shoulders and chest it might feel like a knot in the muscle or a tight band. You may feel sensitivity to the touch. With myofascial pain there are often sensitive trigger points that are tender when touched. That is there is pain when you put pressure on a trigger point. You can experience aching, burning, stinging or stabbing and a reduced range of motion to the affected area.

Yin yoga is designed to get deep into the myofascial layers of our body. We hold the poses for longer to affect the deeper connective tissues that wrap around the joints and the bones. These connective tissues require slow and gentle traction in a passive way over a long period of time. Connective tissue is more “plastic” in nature compared to muscle which is more elastic. This dense and less pliant connective tissue needs time and the effect gravity over time to release. Just like braces the deeper layers of our connective tissues respond to slow gentle traction.

Often what helps with upper back pain is massage. When we practice yin yoga we are doing something similar to massage in that we are pressurizing and manipulating the myofascial tissue. This slow gentle traction over time helps to prevent contracture or the loss of mobility through a joint. Ligaments often begin to shorten and can immobilize and shrink wrap around the joint. By taking the yin yoga shapes we pressurize and manipulate the myofascial tissue easing this immobilization.

Additionally, all the time we spend breathing with non-abandoning attention and compassion in our yin yoga postures allows us to reduce the stress and anxiety that may be causing the upper back pain in the first place.

Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu

If you made it all the way to the end of the class put: “I can move with ease in my upper back now” in the comments

Our next live class will be: February 23rd Let me know on the poll on my YouTube Community Tab if you want Yin Yoga for Legs or Yin Yoga for Runners

Relieving upper back pain is not something you can do in just one yoga video. I am going to share with you a good, better and best way to do that now.

Good: We release a video here every Friday at 9 am PT, when you subscribe and turn on notifications by pressing that bell, you will receive that video and it will support you in your daily practice
Better: At the beginning I told you I will tell you where you could go to get 7 days of yoga for back pain. If you go to melissawest.com/backpainyou can sign up there to receive 8 days with the best of yoga, ayurveda, self massage and pranayama (or breath practices) to help your back.
Best: The best way to deal with myofascial pain in your upper back is foam rolling in my opinion and we have lots of great resources for that in our membership community. The best option is the Upper back rehydration sequence. It is one that I use almost daily. It is 13 minutes. It works miracles on your upper back.

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