Happy Baby pose for low back issues

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Bernie
Posts: 1152
Joined: Sat Sep 23, 2006 2:25 am
Location: Vancouver

Happy Baby pose for low back issues

Post by Bernie »

I recently received the following question:
  • Hi Bernie.I was just watching your video on Youtube for Happy Baby pose. I have a question about getting the feet above the knees. I know my hamstrings are pretty tight, including my hips. I do have lower back issues (degenerative disk at level 5-sacrum, and so was looking for some safe, easy stretches I can do for low back. I know you mention sacrum issues being a possible contraindication for Happy Baby, but thought I would try it, going slowly of course. I'm finding that I can bring legs into chest, but very hard to then straighten lower legs to bring feet above the knees. I tried it again with a towel around one foot with the other foot on floor with knee bent. In this version I try bring raised foot above knee. I can then, but feel a hamstring stretch in back of leg while doing it. This is the same for other leg doing opposite side next. Is this normal to feel and is there a "typical" reason why one would have trouble bringing feet above knees? I can hold big toes on feet, but looks more like butterfly version then, as I can't yet bring lower legs or feet higher in that version. Thanks Bernie for any suggestions!

Hi RJ ... thanks for the questions. Happy Baby is a fun pose, but not all babies look alike. The intentions of the pose can vary from a little decompression in the sacral area to a nice stress along the hamstrings to abducting the hips. The intention of the pose is NOT to get your feet above the knees...that is simply a direction to move towards, not a requirement of the pose. There are many babies out there just like you that have hamstrings that won't allow the feet to come higher or over the knees, and these are all still lovely babies! You don't need to work towards an aesthetic of having the feet in any particular place; what we are seeking is stress in the targeted areas. Since your concern is the low back, let's focus there.

There are 2 ways you can stress the low back/sacral areas: tension and compression. A mild compression can be generated by lying on your stomach, and given your history, that may be enough. Rest your head on your hands and lie there for a few minutes. Eventually, you may come up to a Sphinx pose, but no need to rush it. Notice how you feel as you come out of the pose and over the next few days. To apply a tension to this area, Child's Pose may be sufficient, with the knees apart so you can stay here for a while. You can even rest your chest on a bolster. If you turn the Child upside down, you are in Happy Baby! Start with knees bent, holding the knees apart with your hands, and work over time to having the legs slightly straight, holding the back of the knees rather than the feet. Remember, the targeted area is the low back so don't worry about the hamstrings.

As always, if you have a problem with your low back, go see a professional! Don't take medical advise over the internet: see someone who can work with you to figure out what is wrong and what's the best way to fix it. Ask their advice about these poses for you. Take what I have said merely as suggestions, not a prescription. Discuss them with your physio or doctor. Good luck!

Cheers
Bernie
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