Avoiding and Supporting Back Pain
By Therese Poon
As mentioned in Warwick's article above, it's good to avoid cold on the lower back whenever possible. If you've noticed that your back/waist/legs have been exposed to a lot of cold during the day, it's a great idea to go home and have a waist deep bath. The reason the waist-deep option is better than a 'full-body' bath is so that only the feet, legs, waist and lower back are warmed up and opened and therefore more 'Qi' will send it's attention to those areas.
It's also very important not to expose the upper body to cold when doing this type of bath, so make sure the room isn't subject to cold or draughts. This is best as a short remedial type bath rather than a relaxing 'music, candles and a good book' type bath. It's more effective when simply warmed to the point where the skin goes quite pink and still has steam rising from the skin when you remove it from the water. If you let the water get too cold or 'luke-warm' it won't be as effective.
The bladder meridian... runs all the way down the back and leg so a great way to keep the Qi supple and moving is to stretch it regularly. The best stretches I've found for the bladder meridian are:
'Childs pose' like the position in the picture above.
Calf stretches, by placing a yoga block or just a large/thick book on the floor, placing the ball of the foot on the book and the heel on the ground, then leaning the whole body forward until you feel the stretch on the back of the lower leg (the calf muscle).
Hamstring stretches, by placing the heel of the foot out in front of you on a raised surface (bed, sofa, desk) and then leaning forward until you feel the back of the upper leg/thigh (The hamstring muscle) begin to stretch.
Keep in mind you should never strain your stretches to the point of shaking or causing internal stress, but they do need to be noticeably felt.
Always hold your stretches (statically without bouncing or moving) for a minimum 30 seconds and maximum 3 minutes. And you should always hold each stretch for the same amount of time each side. Otherwise you might feel a little lop-sided afterwards.
These 2 techniques can be done on a regular basis to avoid the possibility of straining the back, but also if you've lightly strained it, you can try these 2 techniques to see if they're able to offer some relief.