When I was in 2nd grade, my elementary school, Taukomas had a program called “Run for Your Life.” I would document my daily and weekly mileage in a log book they gave us and I got points for my class that were redeemable for books and supplies for the classroom. I didn’t care much about the rewards, but I got hooked on running as a 7 year old. I would mostly run with my neighbor in the woods behind his house. We tracked out a 5-mile loop with the odometer on my bike and marked it with arrows on rocks and trees.
Years later I would run to get into shape for the soccer season. I stopped running for a few years and then got back into it while in PT school. A bunch of my classmates had registered for the NYC Marathon and they persuaded me to get off my lazy butt and join them. I was overweight and out of shape, a typical grad student at the time. It was April 1995 and I had until October to get fit. I was 25-years old and it came easy. I would have occasional knee soreness from dramatic mileage increases, but I was young and it never lasted long. I completed the 1995 NYC Marathon faster than I imagined possible and continued running since.
I have since done 3 more NYC marathons, a handful of half-marathons and multiple long distance triathlons which include a full or half-marathon.
My brother recently asked me if all this running hurts my knees. The best answer I can give him is that most of the time my knees feel great. If I overdo it, they get a little sore. If I were to carry a 50-pound bag of cement around with me all day, my back would hurt. Running is like any other strenuous activity; if you have the power and endurance to withstand the strain, you won’t injure yourself over the short-term or long-term.
Proper training and rest are essential to avoiding injuries of all types. I can train harder now (I’m 42 years old) than I ever did when I was younger because I’m stronger and I understand the importance of rest. When I don’t listen to my body and I push it too hard, I end up overly sore and have to take a few days off from quality training. Most of the time running is an activity that’s painfree and brings me loads of satisfaction.
I run because it makes me feel great, I’ve made a world of friends who run and it’s great for me. Back in 2nd grade I could have never known that the Taukomas “Run for your Life” program would actually propel me towards a lifetime of running.
In my next blog I’ll be critiquing “RunSmart: A Comprehensive Approach to Injury-Free Running” by Physical Therapist Allan Besselink.
Congrats to all the City Coach athletes who competed in IM NYC on Saturday. It was truly an awesome day - another one to add to the lore of this great city.
The amount of planning and effort that went into this event must have been astronomical. There were thousands of volunteers and Ironman employees on the course, around 2000 triathletes participated; and the event was mostly seamless.
After pre-race prep, registration and bike drop-off on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, I got about 4 hours of sleep before getting to Pier 39 for a ferry to Transition at Ross Dock. After an hour to make final adjustments we reboarded the ferries and were brought to a barge 2.4 miles up the Hudson. As our ferry taxied up to the barge, we watched swimmers in wetsuits and fluorescent pink or green caps scoot down a ramp and into the flow of the river while a helicopter circled above, documenting the kickoff of the Inaugural NYC Ironman.
By the time my ferry, the 4th of 5, cued up, the downstream flow of the Hudson River was powerful. Buoys sped past me on my left and I just maintained a steady, smooth stroke in order to conserve energy for the remainder of the day. I might have finished sooner if I was able to maintain a straight line instead of meeting face-to-face with a man in a kayak and crashing into a giant red buoy. No harm, no foul - downstream I go......
I was on my bike and off to the Palisades within an hour. Crowds cheered at Strictly Bikes in Fort Lee as we entered the exit ramp of the southbound highway. That entire 2-lane side of the Palisades Interstate Parkway was closed to traffic for the day. The road is mostly well-maintained, but there were several enormous potholes and grooves in the road in the last 5-6 miles from the northernmost end of the loops.
The lower half of the two 56-mile loops are relatively flat - the upper half...not so much. Up and down long hills, none very steep, but not forgiving. At no point did I feel like I was getting my ass kicked, but by the end it was clear to me that a beating had taken place. I felt the mental exhaustion of 6+ hours on the bike and my body was tight and depleted. No worries, just a marathon left to go.
I ran the Palisades 1/2 Marathon in June on the course of the marathon at around 7mins/mile. I expected to run at a pace of around 9min/mile on Saturday. That didn't go exactly as planned. I was more fatigued than expected from the bike, it was 85 and humid and I was experiencing some GI distress. Oh yeah, and the hills on River Road got significantly steeper since June. Two loops of a relentless 7-mile pounding. Did I mention that the hills also got steeper on the second loop? Thank goodness for the aide stations every mile or I wouldn't have known when to stop and walk. Not everyone is a fan of loops, but for me they provided the opportunity to see friends and teammates several times along the run. Everyone was so positive and supportive. Agnes danced when we saw each other. Jess reminded me, "You're a runner, Dan!" I had definitely forgotten that at Mile 9. Thanks ladies!
At Mile 15 we left the park and ran 0.5 miles up to the stairs of the GW Bridge. I would call that Heartbreak Hill, but I think that's taken and it was more like the straw that broke the camel's back for me. I had no choice but to sit in a chair under a canopy for about 5 minutes with 2 lovely ladies of a certain age. They fed me, brought me water and told me how inspiring the day was. They'd been out there since 8am. Bravo!
The Final Stretch
Off I went - to the bridge, up the stairs, down the stairs, across the bridge, down more stairs, around Washington Heights and eventually into Riverside Park in the 180s. This is all very familiar territory for me, so I knew how far I still had left - both comforting and discouraging. Down past the Little Red Light House, through the BBQs and volleyball games along the Westside Highway, eventually out to Fairway. Team City Coach awaited. They seemed shocked to see me, maybe assuming I was still swimming, more likely experiencing spectator fatigue from an exhausting day. You guys were great and you energized me when I needed it bad. Thanks!
"It's just a 10K away"
At that point, it was the longest 10K I've ever done, but the body was on auto-pilot. The run is mostly flat from there except for a few short ascents and descents in the park. I caught on with another runner at my pace and we helped each other along for about 4-miles. She told me about her first IM. She had rushed through the finish. She advised me to savor the moment.
Then from atop the little hill at Mile 25 I could hear my wife cheering my name. When I got there I was greeted by her, my son, my daughter, my mom,her boyfriend and some very close friends. I hung with them for a minute to appreciate the moment and catch my breath.
From there I slowly jogged down the hill and then used the adrenaline from my cheering section to take me home. As advised, I took my time through the finish corral, walking the final 20 meters to savor the moment. I'll never forget it.
Overall, Saturday was one of the most amazing days of my life. Congrats to everyone who organized the race and to all the finishers - You are an Ironman!!!
Most of us are concerned with our weight. We live in a society that puts a premium on the ‘perfect body’, and for some of us, the pressure of looking good is what drives us to overeat. But a healthy body weight should not just be about looking good. Maintaining a healthy weight puts us at a lower risk for Heart Disease, Diabetes, Arthritis and certain types of cancer. That is something you have probably heard a million times, but it is one thing to know WHY slimming down is important, it’s another thing entirely to change habits, especially when food is such a big part of our culture and, well, it’s delicious.
One of the best ways to begin a ‘diet’ is to erase the term ‘diet’ from your vocabulary. Diet, in this situation, implies something that is only temporary - a means to an end - and once you reach the goal, the ‘diet’ is over, and you can go back to business as usual. That’s not going to work! Fad diets are so restrictive that your body almost believes it’s starving. That’s not a good thing! Humans have been around for so long that our bodies are biologically designed to anticipate periods of hunger; our bodies have not quite caught up to the times - we have more food than we need! So, if you restrict your calories, which seems to make the most sense if you want to lose weight, your body slows it’s metabolism down: it burns fewer calories, believing it needs to keep some in storage because it doesn’t think any more energy will be coming its way. When your ‘diet’ is over, and you have lost the weight you set out to lose, you have set yourself up for disappointment. You may be slimmer, but your metabolism is now slower, and those pounds will pile right back on.
So, what do you do? You look at healthy eating as a lifestyle change. Set realistic goals. If you want to lose 20 pounds, don’t panic and expect to lose them all at once. Losing half a pound to one pound a week has been proven to be the most effective way to achieve long-term weight loss. Why? Imagine for a second that food cravings have a mind of their own. Being conscious of food choices has never really been on your to-do list. Your body has grown accustomed to large amounts of high-fat, high-sugar foods. Suddenly, you eliminate those foods. Your body reacts like it would to a drug being yanked from its system. You don’t even notice yourself buying that cupcake - but there you are, eating one. And then another. Basically, if you deprive yourself of the things that make you happy, your brain will simply say, “NO!” and you will most likely binge on exactly the type of food you are trying to avoid. Treat yourself every day! They sell bite-sized candy bars for just this purpose, or maybe not JUST for this purpose. But they do the trick.
Portion control is very important, and it goes hand-in-hand with moderation. Here is a fun and interactive guide to choosing the right portions for your food!
The Food Plate is a great resource. A very fun, interactive version can be found here. Keep in mind that everyone’s dietary needs are different. The body needs over 40 different vitamins and minerals to function and thrive – feed it well with a well-rounded diet that includes the following: whole grains, fruits, veggies, dairy products, nuts and legumes, lean-meats like poultry, fish and certain cuts of steak and pork. If you have allergies, research alternatives to the foods you cannot eat.
And remember: there is no such thing as “bad” food – even fat is important! Certain vitamins are only fat-soluble. It is recommended that 30% of your daily caloric intake should come from fat. Of course, there are good kinds of fat and bad kinds of fat. Keep your saturated fat consumption down to 10% of your daily caloric intake – or lower! Here is a guide to good fat vs. bad fat.
Write it down! Time and time again you hear nutritionists telling you to journal what you eat. Why? Because it works! Keeping a log of what you eat not only helps you track problem foods (foods you are eating out of boredom, portions that can be reduced), but it forces you to take responsibility. Imagine keeping a food journal as the difference between using cash to buy something, and using a credit card. You are much less likely to spend all of your cash, because you can actually see the money and hold it, than you would be to run up a bill on your credit card, which you can forget about until later.
Make it fun! Try to new recipes. Become a part of the change you are making. Learn to love food without all the dressing. Experiment with different spices and flavors – you may find yourself leaving the fatty condiments like creamy caesar at mayo and the door.
It’s all about small, gradual changes that will last you your whole life! You don’t want a crash diet that will leave you fatigued, hungry, cranky, and bitter. You want delicious, healthful meals that leave you satisfied, energetic, and positive.
Don’t forget the importance of exercise! You need to burn 3,500 calories to lose one pound. That may sound like a lot – but if you shave off 500 calories a day by eating better and exercising more – it’s really not a lot AT ALL! There are so many options to get moving. Running, yoga, walking, Zumba… Increase your physical activity by 10% and you will see dramatic changes in your appearance, stamina, and confidence. Good luck!
Running is just as much a mental sport as it is physical. The very idea of taking on such an arduous task is overwhelming for even experienced runners, never mind the anxiety it instills in beginners. As with all things in life, it is best to have the right attitude. Get yourself in the mindset that you can and will achieve each and every goal you set - no matter how high or low you aim - and you will be putting your best foot forward.
There is such a thing as runners’ psychology: the thoughts that are with you as you embrace the path ahead. Negative thoughts make each step heavier and harder to bare; the body fatigues quickly as motivation dwindles from the start. It is so important to practice positive visualization.
What inspires you to run? The health benefits of running are well known - but beyond that, if you close your eyes and imagine yourself taking that first step, what excites you about the road ahead? Is it the trail? The scenery? Beating your own record? Envision the most perfect run. Practice these visualizations at least 10 times a day. Be detailed. Remember, you have complete creative control. Feel yourself breathing, feel your feet hitting the ground, feel the wind on your face. If you train your mind to respond with intense enthusiasm and excitement to running, your body will respond accordingly.
To help you stay positive, think up some affirmations or mantras. These should be short, strongly optimistic messages that you repeat to yourself until you trick the mind out of hearing that cynical voice always trying to break through. Some examples are: “I can do anything”, “I am getting faster”, “A race with fun is easy to run.” Affirmations should be said in the present tense, reminding you of the importance of the here and now.
Setting goals is a priority. Knowing where you are and where you want to be are two significant values. Set goals that are reasonable for YOU - don’t worry if someone is more advanced. Every runner began at the beginning!!
Many people, myself included, constantly think we're living a healthy lifestyle, even as experts warn us that that is not the case and current lifestyles will have consequences down the road.
Too much fast food, alcohol and/or sugary drinks are putting people at an increased risk for heart disease and stroke.
Begin your journey to a healthy heart Today!
In an attempt to ensure my healthy heart, I decided to research what changes needed to be made in order to stay healthy and came across a great article from the American Heart Association... check out the snippet below:
...Your lifestyle is not only your best defense against heart disease and stroke, it's also your responsibility. A heart-healthy lifestyle includes the ideas listed in the heart below.
If you smoke, quit. If someone in your household smokes, encourage them to quit. We know it's tough. But it's tougher to recover from a heart attack or stroke or to live with chronic heart disease. Commit to quit. We're here to help if you need it.
Choose good nutrition
A healthy diet is one of the best weapons you have to fight cardiovascular disease. The food you eat (and the amount) can affect other controllable risk factors: cholesterol, blood pressure, diabetes and overweight. Choose nutrient-rich foods — which have vitamins, minerals, fiber and other nutrients but are lower in calories — over nutrient-poor foods. A diet rich in vegetables, fruits, whole-grain and high-fiber foods, fish, lean protein and fat-free or low-fat dairy products is the key. And to maintain a healthy weight, coordinate your diet with your physical activity level so you're using up as many calories as you take in.
Reduce blood cholesterol
Fat lodged in your arteries is a disaster waiting to happen. Sooner or later it could trigger a heart attack or stroke. You've got to reduce your intake of saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol and get moving. If diet and physical activity alone don't get those numbers down, then medication may be the key. Take it just like the doctor orders. Here's the lowdown on where those numbers need to be:
- Total Cholesterol: Less than 200 mg/dL
- LDL (bad) Cholesterol:
- If you're at low risk for heart disease: Less than 160 mg/dL
- If you're at intermediate risk for heart disease: Less than 130 mg/dL
- If you're at high risk for heart disease (including those with existing heart disease or diabetes): Less than 100mg/dL
- HDL (good) Cholesterol: 40 mg/dL or higher for men and 50 mg/dL or higher for women
- Triglycerides: Less than 150 mg/dL
Lower high blood pressure
It's the single largest risk factor for stroke. Stroke is the No. 3 killer and one of the leading causes of disability in the United States. Stroke recovery is difficult at best and you could be disabled for life. Shake that salt habit, take your medications as recommended by your doctor and get moving. Those numbers need to get down and stay down. Your goal is less than 120/80 mmHg.
Be physically active every day
Be physically active every day. Research has shown that getting at least 30 minutes of physical activity on 5 or more days of the week can help lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol and keep your weight at a healthy level. But something IS better than nothing. If you're doing nothing now, start out slow. Even 10 minutes at a time may offer some health benefits. Studies show that people who have achieved even a moderate level of fitness are much less likely to die early than those with a low fitness level.
Aim for a healthy weight
Obesity is an epidemic in America, not only for adults but also for children. An epidemic is when a health problem is out of control and many people are affected by it. Fad diets and supplements are not the answer. Good nutrition, controlling calorie intake and physical activity are the only way to maintain a healthy weight. Obesity places you at risk for high cholesterol, high blood pressure and insulin resistance, a precursor of type 2 diabetes — the very factors that heighten your risk of cardiovascular disease. Your Body Mass Index (BMI) can help tell you if your weight is healthy.
Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of diabetes-related death. People with diabetes are two to four times more likely to develop cardiovascular disease due to a variety of risk factors, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, obesity and lack of physical activity.
Some scientists have noted a relationship between coronary heart disease risk and stress in a person's life that may affect the risk factors for heart disease and stroke. For example, people under stress may overeat, start smoking or smoke more than they otherwise would. Research has even shown that stress reaction in young adults predicts middle-age blood pressure risk.
Drinking too much alcohol can raise blood pressure and lead to heart failure or stroke. It can contribute to high triglycerides, produce irregular heartbeats and affect cancer and other diseases. It contributes to obesity, alcoholism, suicide and accidents. The risk of heart disease in people who drink moderate amounts of alcohol (an average of one drink for women or two drinks for men per day) is lower than in nondrinkers. However, it's not recommended that nondrinkers start using alcohol or that drinkers increase the amount they drink.
Often, making lifestyle changes is all that's need to reduces the risk of heart related problem. So whatever your age, start taking steps to improve your heart health. I know I will!
It was inevitable. Every biker I’ve ever spoken with has a story about a crash. I’ve feared how it would play it for me and now I know from experience. ….
On my way up the Westside Highway towards the George Washington Bridge on Wednesday morning I was basically riding in the dark. Very dark, except for the headlights in my eyes from the cars on the highway to my right. I recognized the danger, particularly with the occasional bump and obstacle on the bike path between 96th and 125th Street, so I slowed my pace. I was still going about 15MPH when at the last minute I noticed a patch of dirt and grass splitting the path. I couldn’t see more than 10 feet in front of me and feared a tree or rock would follow, so I slammed on my brakes, a little too aggressively.
Before I even knew what was happening, the left side of my head made impact with the ground. I also actually hit my left elbow and shoulder, my right hand, and both knees. Maybe it was best that everything slammed into the ground because nothing took too much of a hit. I’m bumped and bruised, but no major damage.
Being a little woozy and motivated for an epic ride, I got back on the Felt and continued my venture. Two miles later, downshifting on a small hill under the bridge, everything jammed as a result of a cracked back derailleur from the crash. Plan B was enacted and I walked the bike into Washington Heights and caught the A Train home. I got a few concerned or confused stares on the train - how could that dude be bloody, greasy, and muddy at 6AM? I probably looked more like I was in costume for an audition than having actually crashed that already. (I take more headers before 6AM than most people do all day.) Another biker/crasher struck up a conversation with me and of course told me about his most recent collision with a car pulling out of a parking spot. There’s something about falling off a bike that makes people want to tell you about their traumatic biking experiences.
So, I’m healing well, my bike is in the shop and I no longer fear my first crash. I was lucky. Going fast on 2 wheels is serious business. It’s the most fun you can have with your own locomotion, but it’s dangerous as hell. I will be taking more precautions and I will of course always wear a helmet.
Swim. Bike. Run. Repeat. Most people would think that's all you need to do to train for a triathlon. You wouldn't be completely wrong if you did 2 sessions of each discipline every week for 3 months leading up to a race, but there is much more involved if you want to perform closer to your potential.
It all starts in the off-season. Before you begin ramping up to the mileage of a triathlon, whether it be a Sprint, Olympic, 1/2 Ironman, or Ironman, you need to have a base to launch from. The distances of an Olympic triathlon are a 0.9-mile swim, 24-mile bike, and 6.2-mile run. If you are striving to simply complete the 3-discipline race, you should be able to do at least 1/2 of each distance, and possibly have 1 of the 3 that you can confidently complete before serious training begins. More competitive racers should easily be able to get through all 3 distances seperately. Training will focus on bringing it all together and getting faster through the entire program.
Prior to specific training, a solid strengthening program will prepare the triathlete for all the challenges they'll face during the actual season. Key areas to train are the legs, upper back/shoulders, and of course the core. This doesn't leave much out and that's because triathlons are a true test of full-body fitness. Strengthening should focus on building a support system that will last through the rigors of training sessions, races, and a long season of both. The intensity and degree of off-season training depends on the athlete's goals and expectations for the upcoming season.
Some training programs that are extremely effective for triathlon training are:
- Calisthenics - push-ups, pull-ups, squats
Once the season begins, continue your strengthening program, but to a lesser degree. The goal should be to maintain your strength and reinforce the work you've done in the off-season. If you're not sure where to begin, join an off-season training program or work with a personal trainer with the specific objective of preparing to train for a triathlon or triathlon season.
You've trained for the past 6-months to get in shape to train for a triathlon.
You're strong, fit, and motivated. So what's the plan?
The key to success in a triathlon is efficiency and the road to efficient performance is paved with excellent technique. Swimming, biking, and running each may seem natural and second-nature to anyone who's exercised before, but to do well in a triathlon with the least amount of effort is the real challenge. So, do what it takes to learn proper technique. There's information online, in books and from professional instructors and coaches.
If you're going to train on your own, here's some advice that will help guide your journey. It's by no means a thorough program, but it can be used as a general guideline. Firstly, assess your ability and your skill level. If you're running 7-minute miles and can barely swim 10-lengths of a pool, then you will need to spend significantly more time in the water than at the track.
- Practice each discipline - weigh more heavily on your weakest 1
- Start slowly and be sure you complete the distance
- Work speed and interval training into each of your programs
- Once a week do a brick session - at least 2 of the 3 disciplines in 1 training session
- Use the equipment you'll be using on race day
- Fine tune your technique and your equipment
- Focus on nutrition - daily and on training/race days
- Go to sleep early - you'll need the extra rest and waking early is the best way to get the most effective workouts
- Be familiar with the course you'll be racing - you have to know it perfectly, but have an idea of what you're getting into
- Stretch - regular stretching is extremely helpful and yoga can be very beneficial to triathletes
- Continue to gently strength train through your triathlon season to maintain strength and endurance
- Rest - allow your body to recover by taking occassional days off
- Have fun - by challenging yourself, you'll see that you are capable of feats beyond your previous beliefs, bringing you great sense of accomplishment and satisfaction
Follow these general guidelines and you'll be well on your way to participating in and succeeding in the exciting world of triathlons.
The bad news: If you have not ever injured your back, odds are that you will. 80% of people have a lower back injury at some point in their life.
The good news: If you have not had a back injury, then you are less likely to have one in the future than someone who has, and the chances are that your injury will be less severe than if you have a history of back injuries. Most lower back pain responds well to treatment and is often fully resolved within a month.
A back injury can result from a congenital deformity, repetitive strain, traumatic incident, or any combination of the three. I’m often asked, “Is back pain genetic?” In most cases, certain people have a predisposition to back pain and they don’t consciously do anything to prevent it. They may live a sedentary lifestyle, not exercise regularly, and even work at a job where they sit all day or lift heavy boxes. This would be like being born with a genetic likelihood of acquiring diabetes and living on a sugar-laden/high carb diet. Your chances of avoiding the affliction would be very unlikely.
The structure in the lower back that is injured more than any other is the disc. Discs are tough, fibrous shock-absorbing pads. They rest between each of the spinal vertebrae, providing support and facilitating normal movement. If extraordinary force is placed on a disc at the proper angle, it can either wear down over time or immediately rupture. Either way, the result can be local pain, radiating pain, leg numbness, leg weakness, or any combination depending upon the severity and impingement on adjacent nerves.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, the most effective form of treatment is to address it in the early stages. Conservative treatment by a physical therapist will often help relieve these symptoms in 2 weeks or less. A PT will also teach you how to manage a chronic condition and prevent future injury.
For a direct consult with a PT...
If you don’t have back pain and you want to keep it that way, several factors can work in your favor:
Get started today. Don’t be 1 of the 80%.
- Regular exercise emphasizing cardiovascular fitness
- Core stabilization exercises
- Utilizing safe postures during work and recreational activities
- Maintaining a normal weight for your body type
I have a love/hate relationship with yoga. I often dread what I am forced to do during a typical yoga session, but I am always so thankful once engaged in a class, and I always feel significantly better after a class than I did before. Sometimes I feel bad for yoga. I think yoga is often misunderstood by those that don’t know it well. Many people think of yoga as stretching only. The reality is that there are so many variations of yoga that it’s not just any 1 thing. It can be beneficial in so many ways.
If you have low back pain, you’ll probably try anything to rid yourself of that discomfort. Yoga can be an extremely useful tool in the management of back pain. Gregory, a former WSPT patient, told me, “I turned to Yoga after my physical therapy as a way to continue the stretching and strengthening not just of my back but also those muscles that support the region, such as my core and my legs. Combined with my PT exercises, yoga has helped me to manage my back pain and live worry-free.”
Most yoga programs combine flexibility, movement, breathing, balance and stabilization exercises. These are all integral components of an effective lower back treatment program. I wouldn’t suggest going to an intense yoga class immediately after an injury, but most PT offices, gyms, or wellness centers that offer yoga have classes of several levels of intensity. Start with a gentle class that emphasizes breathing and gentle movement. Gradually progress to one that incorporates more fluid movements (usually multiple sun salutations) and balancing on 1 or both feet.
An effective yoga program emphasizes balance in all planes of movement. For every forward-bending (flexion) exercise there is an equal and opposite back-bending (extension) exercise. For every bend or rotation to the right, there is a symmetrical one to the left. This symmetry helps align the body evenly, building stability in neutral and the ability to tolerate movements into extreme positions.
A well-trained and experienced instructor will advise you on the appropriate extent to push yourself with a particular exercise or position and will assist you in achieving that. The instructor will often guide you with tactile cues, guiding or gently easing you into proper position. If possible, it can be beneficial to discuss your specific challenges with your yoga instructor. Ask them to recommend poses and movements for you to focus on. Any instructor will tell you that practice outside of class is essential to the overall management of your back and the improvement of your condition.
If you find yourself progressing, and the classes are getting easier, you may eventually be able to participate in a more advanced class that involves shoulder stands, inversions, and complex balance positions. If you have back pain it may be because you’re not very active or it may be because you lift heavy boxes all day at work. Either way a yoga program can adapt to your needs. Yoga will stay as easy and gentle as you like or will challenge you beyond what you believed your body could do.
If you have back pain, make yoga your friend. It will reward you with days and nights of flexibility, strength, and comfort.