Traction Therapy for Back Pain

Article by Lucas Rockwood

If you struggle with back pain, you’ll be excited to learn how spinal traction can aid in your healing protocol. Traction includes any practice designed to decompress your vertebral column to relieve pain. Safe and effective, these techniques have been used clinically for over a hundred years.

Throughout the day, gravity naturally compresses your spine as you walk, particularly your lower back. With higher impact movements like running and lifting, compression is further amplified. Your intervertebral discs account for 25 percent of your spine’s height, and those discs can become squished and dehydrated. Traction helps reverse the downward force and creates one to two millimetres of extra space, a tiny change that delivers big results when it comes to relieving impingement pain.

Download PDF pose chart

Standing Cat-Cow

A traditional Cat-Cow on the floor is a classic yoga pose for your spine, but this standing version adds decompression to the mix. You’ll need a chair, a kitchen table, or a countertop for this pose. Keep your movements small and controlled.

  • Place your hands on your chair / table / countertop
  • Let your knees drop, tuck your toes under
  • Inhale, gently arch your spine, lift your heart, and look up
  • Exhale, curl, and drop your chin towards your chest
  • Repeat for 10 rounds

Passive Hang

Your goal in this pose is to relax and allow gravity to do the work, creating a little more space between your vertebrae. You can either hook your hands over the top of a door frame or use a belt or strap. If you choose to use a belt, close it into the top of the door. Using a belt or strap means you can wrap it around your wrists and don’t need to rely on your own grip strength.

  • Stand with your feet wide apart facing away from the door
  • Squat down low and simply hang here
  • Inhale through your nose to the count of four and exhale through your mouth to the count of eight with a “ha” sound
  • Hold for 1 minute

Long Child’s Pose

This version of child’s pose allows you to reverse the effects of gravity, create a little more space between your vertebrae, and encourage the natural hydration of your intervertebral discs.

  • Loop your strap around a doorknob and then close it in the door
  • Wrap your wrists around the strap
  • Sit on your heels with your knees wide apart, and big toes touching behind you
  • Relax your head and neck, keep your arms straight
  • Breathe in through your nose to the count of four, and out through your mouth for an eight count
  • Hold for 1 minute

Safety Disclaimer

If you have a major back pain problem, if you’re having trouble getting up and down from the floor, or if you have radiating pain, please see a doctor. This is for educational purposes only.

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