Yoga hurts my lower back

I have come to a sad conclusion. Yoga — which was my preferred workout for about 6 months a couple years ago, and which I still enjoy and work into my regular routine — hurts my back.

I do not say this lightly, and, I will readily admit, that, while I’ve been practicing yoga for more that 4 years now, the problem is surely with my technique. However, my technique is not likely to change, because I don’t see myself going to an actual yoga class, even though I’m sure that would help.

You may wonder how I figured out the connection between yoga and my back pain. I have several compelling pieces of evidence.

I never had back pain prior to starting yoga. However, at the time I started yoga, I also started other exercise, including lifting some weights and high-impact aerobics, so I was never able to isolate it.

When I have been able to isolate yoga, such as when I was doing a 21-day cleanse back in 2012 during which I only did yoga for exercise, my back pain continued. In fact, I remember thinking before the cleanse that “this will be a good opportunity to let my back heal” — and it didn’t.

My last such isolation of yoga was earlier this week.

After a visit with my doctor a couple of months ago, during which she tried to tell me that my back pain was arthritis (she thinks everything is arthritis, and, so far, it never is). She told me to continue exercising, because exercise helps arthritis pain. When she said that, it triggered a thought in my head — I’ve never tried not exercising to heal my back. After all, I had not had back pain prior to starting to exercise, so it only made sense to take away the exercise and see what would happen.

Guess what? After 5 weeks of only a bit of walking (if that) each day my back felt great! No pain, good as new!

I wanted to start exercising again, though, so I put in a T25 DVD and did it. Things went well. Back still felt fine.

I continued doing T25 routines for a few weeks, then took 5 days off. This past Monday I was supposed to start back up with T25, but I had already taken a shower (for an early morning meeting) and didn’t feel like taking another that day (the older I get, the less I like to shower — not sure why), so I thought I’d do a rather easy yoga routine as my exercise for the day.

And … the next day my back pain had returned. It’s the exact pain I’d been living with for 4+ years. Honestly, it’s not devastating by any means, but it’s annoying, and I’d like it gone.

Anyway, that’s how I’ve concluded that yoga hurts my back.

Again, I want to emphasize that this must be a technique problem on my part, not an actual problem with yoga (duh). I am guessing, based on the location of the pain, that I am hurting myself when I swing a single leg through to between my hands from having it raised in single-leg downward dog. I will probably experiment with this after my back fixes itself again, but until then, no yoga for me.

You can’t go from couch to marathon overnight!

GET IT DONE: IN  25 MINUTES A DAY!You may have read the title of this article and said, “Duh.” I mean, who’d be stupid enough to think they could go from being a couch potato to a marathoner without at least a few months of training?

This logic also applies to half-marathon, 10k, and even 5k races. There are scads of websites devoted to helping people build up their bodies to the race they want to run.

We know this. It’s obvious.

Well, then, answer me this question: Why is it that I will turn people on to a high-intensity program like Shaun T’s Insanity or even his 25-minutes-a-day program, Focus T25, and they’ll do day one and then quit because … “it’s too hard”?

OF COURSE IT’S TOO HARD! YOU ARE OUT OF SHAPE! YOU HAVE TO WORK UP TO BEING ABLE TO DO IT ALL THE WAY THROUGH!

(I don’t mean to shout, but this attitude gets me riled up!)

If you were to decide that you have a goal to run a 10k (6.2 mile) race, you wouldn’t schedule the race for next weekend, would you? Hell no! You’d schedule it for 3 or 6 months down the road. Then you’d start training by running short distances, gradually increasing your mileage until you were ready to successfully complete the race.

That is the same approach we need to take to a high-intensity training program.

Take it slowly at first. Add extra breaks. Pause the DVD. In fact, I recommend that — at least at first — you do NOT pause the DVD. Just let it run. Take a break and jump back in when you are ready.

Don’t be discouraged if you can’t complete an Insanity routine. I’ve been doing Insanity for more than 2 years now, and I still cannot make it through even one of the DVDs at full intensity without stopping. I get closest to that with the “Pure Cardio” DVD, but still haven’t made it yet.

I remember the first time I did P90X’s infamous “Plyo X” workout. What a killer! But you know what? The day I was able to make it all the way through that workout without modifications and without stopping gave me a great feeling of accomplishment. It let me know that I really was getting into shape.

You are not going to go from couch to marathon overnight. Don’t expect that with your Beachbody program, either. In fact, I would suggest that any workout that a couch potato can complete all the way through right away is not really much of a workout. Stick with the stuff you can’t do now, because that is the only way to make yourself stronger and better.