Waking up with back pain…and how to ease out of it

Waking up with back painI woke up with a stiff mid-lower back, and the sensation that my shoulders were hiked up to my ears after sleeping in a twisted position. I could picture where my muscle “knots tend to form between my shoulder blades in my upper-mid back, as well as the spasm in my left lower back. Not a great way to start the day, right?

Waiting for the water in my French press to become suitably coffee-infused, I drug out my yoga mat (a nice thick natural rubber mat by the Jade Yoga company) and lay on my back hugging my knees to my chest. At first, It felt challenging even in this position to keep my breath flowing in and out, while I gently rocked from side to side to give myself an gentle, easy lower back massage.

When the stiffness and pain eased up, I rolled slowly onto my side and eased my way into a spinal twist, keeping my knees bent at a ninety degree angle, and my arms in a low T-shape, with my head turned in the opposite direction from my legs. Ahhh! I like to rest in this position for a couple of minutes per side, breathing, and feeling the satisfying stretch in the sides of my back and in the muscles along my spine.

My low back still felt knotted up, so I returned to lying on my back with my knees bent, feet resting on the floor. I alternated between slightly arching my low back, and pressing my sacrum (tailbone) against my mat. I can usually get the vertebrae in my low back to pop themselves nicely into place with this move, but today my LB was not responding to this one. I pushed my hips up into a bridge pose, holding the pose and breathing, and then slowly lowered my back to the floor, imagining that I was setting each vertebra down individually from the top of my thoracic spine (upper back) and ending with my sacrum. Doing this spinal roll-down felt amazing, and I could feel the muscles along my spine release their tension as I moved slowly from one area of my spine to the one below it.

Now, moving from my back to all fours was much less painful and much easier to do. I did some slow cat-cow poses (alternately arching and rounding my back, my head and neck following the movements of my spine).

From being on all fours, I moved my weight back onto my hips, resting in child’s pose, my arms relaxed and extended in front of me. I turned my toes under to rest on the floor, came into a crouching position with my fingertips on the floor, and pushed myself slowly up to standing, rounding my spine from the sacrum, to lower, mid, and upper back, my neck and head coming up last.

My coffee was done brewing though my back held some lingering remnants of tension. Nothing that a hot shower and a good massage won’t help!

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