Have you ever preformed a simple activity like bending over to tie your shoe and suddenly felt stabbing pains in your back? Turns out 8 out of 10 people will suffer from lower back pain at some point in their lives. While modern medicine pinpoints specific causes of lower back pain —poor posture, lack of muscle tone, strain, and stress — Ayurveda sees back pain as a symptom of vata and kapha imbalances, aggravated by a build-up of ama.
This helps explain why the incidence of lower back pain increases with age. Fifty percent of those over the age of 60 experience lower back pain. According to Ayurveda, when we are 60 and over we are considered to be in the vata time of life. So it makes sense that vata imbalances — and their resulting problems — appear more frequently in these years.
In the case of back pain, vata imbalances interfere with kapha’s ability to support and lubricate the spine. This dryness further aggravates vata and leads to stiffness and pain. Let’s look at this in more detail:
Vata and Kapha Imbalances
Each of the three doshas (vata, pitta and kapha) has five subdivisions called “subdoshas” which control particular functions of the body. One of the subdoshas of vata, apana vata, is related to lower back pain. Apana vata is situated in the lower pelvic area and is responsible for the downward moving aspect of vata relating to elimination and menstruation. Chronic problems such as constipation and painful periods may indicate an underlying imbalance that can end up resulting in lower back pain later in life.
When vata becomes aggravated by stress or fatigue, by traveling, by a cold, dry environment, or by too many cold, dry, rough foods, the increased vata influence in the body affects kapha.
One of the subdoshas of kapha, avalambaka kapha, is located in the lower back and heart. It lubricates and supports the spine and the sacrum. This subdosha can “dry out” when affected by apana vata.
When kapha does not lubricate properly the result is dryness in the joints. This can lead to pain, aches, stiffness, etc. This drying influence may also cause difficulties with elimination and constipation.
Ama —toxins and impurities that accumulate in body—is another factor to be considered with lower back pain. When vata and kapha are aggravated they mix with the ama, creating either a vata-aggravated ama or a kapha-aggravated ama. The ama can become lodged in the joints, blocking joint movement and interfering with the production of fluid lubricating the joints. This leads to cracking joints, stiffness, pain, loss of cartilage and overproduced bone growth at the joints resulting in osteoarthritis.
Effective preventive treatment for chronic lower back pain should include regular stretching, such as yoga exercises.
The authentic, traditional Ayurveda treatments (Panchakarma) offered at The Raj specialize in removing ama and impurities that have accumulated in the joints and tissues. They also help balance vata, allowing kapha to once again function normally.
If you are prone to lower back pain, try to avoid eating vata-aggravating foods such as dry foods and raw vegetables. Also avoid root foods, which not only aggravate vata but also have certain properties that can adversely affect joints. To reduce ama, avoid cheese, meat and heavy, fried, or processed foods. Eat your main meal at noon and take a lighter meal in the evening.
Daily Oil Massage
Pacifying vata is the key to keeping everything else in balance. A simple home oil massage each morning can help soothe vata and also help remove ama from the skin tissues.
Many people find that their back goes out when they are under stress. In a stressful situation the whole body can tighten, tense, and can easily go into muscle spasm, which can push vertebrae out of place. At The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa and Treatment Center, daily practice of the Transcendental Meditation technique is recommended to reduce stress, thereby reducing incidences of lower back problems.
Now we can understand that while back pain may appear to be caused by some specific activity, there has in fact been a long series of events leading up to that particular moment: an aggravation of vata, a disruption of kapha’s lubricating function and a build-up of ama. The good news is that it is not just an inevitable part of growing old.
For more information on programs at The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa and Treatment Center visit:
Image provided by Google Advance Image Search, Nacivet / Photographer’s Choice