One woman's amazing journey out of back pain.
Toni, aged 39, attended a Yoga for Healthy Lower Backs course I taught last year. This is her story...
For many years I would occasionally suffer a stiffness in my lower back and pain in buttock. Although painful, it would pass in a few days and I would forget about it and carry on. I didn't know why I had it or what caused it until I consulted a physiotherapist when the pain became much worse.
During my pregnancies I had lower back pain. However, after the birth of my second child I suffered chronic pain for 3 years, stiffness in my lower back and spasms from buttock all the way down the back of my leg and into my foot.
I would have attacks that lasted for several weeks, which became more painful over time. I was limping, I couldn't run, I was unable to sit for more than a few minutes at a time and I could only sleep on the on the floor, waking every hour or two with horrendous spasms. My GP prescribed me Amitriptyline. The medication did help ease some of the pain, but it wasn't a solution, it only masked the problem. Being in constant pain I was feeling low and I couldn't go to work and struggled with everything; very hard when you have 2 little children to take care of. As a result I became exhausted and very unfit, which made my problems even worse, it was a vicious cycle.
When I visited a physiotherapist, she explained that I was suffering from sciatica, which was caused by pressure onto the sciatic nerve causing excruciating pain. I did physio stretches to help correct my back problem. She advised me to do yoga long term
Yoga for Healthy Lower Backs
When I started the YHLB course,(spring 2017) I was taking medication for sciatic pain and I was incredibly unfit with bad posture.
I loved the course; it was like First Aid for the back. I learned lots of postures over the 12 week course, and I still use a few which I feel really benefit me. I regularly used to wake up with a stiff back, but now I know how to relieve the tension with my favorite stretches.
Gradually through the course, my back improved tremendously and I stopped taking medication. I was so impressed that when the course finished I took up regular Yoga, which I practice on a daily basis at home. I believe that Yoga was the best thing I could do to get me back into good health, improving my posture, strength, balance and well being. I loved the relaxation CD we got to do at home.
The YHLB course has greatly exceeded my expectations. My teacher Barbara was amazing and so helpful and I absolutely would recommend anyone with back pain to do this course.
My life now
I have got my life back, from Exhausted with Chronic pain, to feeling Fit, Strong, Healthy and Happy!
A new friend on the Yoga course persuaded me to do netball with her (which I never dreamt I would do). I then realised that I love team sports. This gave me new confidence, so I joined a ladies cricket team too which is so much fun. My stamina and fitness levels have improved beyond belief.
I still practice Yoga daily, I cycle as much as I can, oh and I have just hired myself a personal trainer to help me achieve my true potential. Anything is possible with a healthy back!
Big changes in a short time
Toni's fantastic story is a reminder that back pain and sciatica should not be conditions you suffer with endlessly. It is really possible to make BIG changes in the SHORT space of time that this programme takes. After teaching YHLB over the last 4 years, I know that many people come to the YHLB programme after years of suffering back pain and make big and long lasting improvements. Working with Toni, I could see in the initial weeks that she was dealing with significant pain. With some postures, I used some modification to help her be comfortable in the Yoga sessions. She persevered, used the short practices at home and I could see over the weeks that things were improving for her and her back. These improvements rippled out through her life too so that she could get back to living how she wanted to.
YHLB was developed for a research study funded by Arthritis Research UK and undertaken by the University of York to look at the effectiveness of Yoga in low back pain.
At the time of the research is was the largest randomised control trial conducted on Yoga with 313 participants and in 2018 it is still one of the largest.
YHLB is a social enterprise set up to share this ground-breaking project for the benefit of those with back pain and sciatica and for wider social benefit.