When it comes to movement, the spine is the most important part of your body. Not only does it house your precious spinal cord but it’s the centrepiece and pillar of strength for the rest of the appendicular skeleton (arms, legs and pelvis).

If your spine isn’t moving properly and is not supported by the surrounding musculature, then there’s an increased chance of lower back pain, poor posture, inefficient movement patterns, injury and time off work and training.

Back pain is extremely common in the Australian population. Some reports have it that over 80% suffer from some sort of back pain on a daily basis. That’s huge!

So how do we ensure good spinal health?

The key is to move it so you don’t lose it. Unfortunately, many of us spend most of the day sitting still; we move from car to desk to couch. So let’s start by moving the spine through its full range of motion on a daily basis. That includes flexion, extension and rotation.

Here’s 7 yoga poses to help relieve lower back pain. Put it all together and you have a simple 10-min yoga flow.

Try it every morning as a way to wake-up and prepare the body for the day. Take it slow and move purposefully with your breath.

Start with Child’s pose. It’s a great stretch for the lower back.

  • Feet and knees together
  • Sink the buttocks towards the heels
  • Reach the arms forward and keep the shoulders relaxed and down
  • Hold and breathe for 1-min

Progress to lateral flexion. It’s perfect for mobilising the spine.

  • In child’s pose walk hands to the right side, flexing the spine sideways whilst keeping the legs and hips still
  • Repeat on the left side, feeling the stretch down the opposite side of the body, from the fingertips to the hip
  • Hold and breathe for 30-sec on each side

  • Gently mobilise each vertebra of the spine through neutral (1),  flexion (2) and extension (3)
  • Aim for 3-4 rounds

Thread the needle is a great pose to encourage spinal rotation.

  • Start in a four-point-kneeling tabletop position with the hips over the knees
  • Keep hips square and still and dive one arm under the opposite, taking the ear towards the ground
  • Push down through the supporting hand and reach the opposite arm to the ceiling/sky
  • Repeat 3-4 times each side

Downdog is a great pose for lengthening and decompressing the entire spine. It stretches the hamstrings as well, which will also help with lower back issues.

  • Feet hip distance and toes point forwards
  • Keep the spine straight
  • Press hands firmly on the ground
  • Shoulders slide down the back
  • Hold and breathe for 1-min

This multi-purpose pose mobilises the spine, releases the hamstrings and lower back.

  • Stand tall and reach the arms above
  • Gently tuck the chin to the chest and roll down the spine, one vertebra at a time
  • Fold forward over legs allowing the lower back to gently flex
  • Keep the core activated and a slight bend in the knees
  • Let the head hang to allow the neck to release
  • Repeat the roll down 3-4 times and then hold at the bottom for 1-min

When we sit a lot, the lower back tends to flatten, which can cause pain. Sphinx pose promotes the natural curvature of the lower back.

  • Legs are hip distance or wider
  • Squeeze bottom and activate the core to protect the lower back
  • Elbows under shoulders and palms flat
  • Widen the chest and collarbone
  • Neck in line with the spine
  • Hold and breathe for 1-min

Some of the glutes and hip flexor muscles attach to the spine. When the hips and glutes are released it allows the spine and body to move more efficiently.

  • Keep the spine and pelvis neutral
  • Shoulders remain down and connected to the mat
  • Cross one ankle over the opposite knee
  • Gently pull the opposite knee towards the chest
  • Hold each side for 1-min

Want more? Download my complete guide to ‘Stretching and yoga for the everyday athlete’.