Why Is My Mid-back Sore In Urdhva Dhanurasana?

January 4, 2022

Transcript of: Why is my mid-back sore in urdhva dhanurasana?

Hey everybody! Welcome to this month’s question of the month. David Keil here, ready to answer your yoga and anatomy questions. If you’ve got one, go to yoganatomy.com/myquestion. Submit your question. We’ll review it. We’ll email you back if we don’t understand and we’ll answer it on video at some point. This month’s question of the month comes from Justine Cathelin and it’s about why the mid-back might feel sore in urdhva dhanurasana.

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The Question:

Since I started doing assisted dropbacks, wheel feels horrible, especially the first two. The pain is actually not in the lower back. But [it’s] more in the mid-upper back that [it] feels very tight and constricted. What would be the anatomical reason [that my mid-back is sore in urdhva dhanurasana]? And, is there anything I can do to make it feel better (besides hoping it will get better with time)?

The Answer:

Well, I’m not sure when you submitted this question. So, the mid-back feeling sore in urdhva dhanurasana might not even be a problem for you anymore, assuming that time did its work. There are of course a lot of variables. And once again, I’m not seeing you do it. I’m not looking at you do wheel or seeing how you do dropbacks. It’s hard for me to give you a specific answer to your problem. So I have to speak in generalities on questions like this that are that specific.

The good news is that it is not pain or pressure in your low back. Typically what happens as you start to open up in backbending the first thing that needs to open in my mind is the hip flexors particularly quadriceps. That’s typically what blocks people. That keeps compression in the low back. So it sounds like you’ve gotten past that stage as I see it. What happens after you get past that is the pressure from doing wheel moves more into the mid or upper back area because it’s not getting stuck in the low back area anymore. In that sense, we could say this is a good thing. Developmentally, within that posture, you’re moving in the right direction. It’s better that it’s moving, and your mid-back is feeling sore in urdhva dhanurasana, rather than it being in the low back.

Over-doing the backbend

It could be that you’re over-doing the backbend, like you’re trying to compress. By compress, I mean engaging the musculature of the back more than you need to. Because, backbends are a two-sided coin. They’re about front opening more than they are about trying to bend your back. I say this all the time in my backbending workshops. We call it backbending. But, the name of the posture in Sanskrit is either chakrasana or urdhva dhanurasana, neither of which say backbending. They say upward facing bow or wheel.

So we have a tendency, because we want to deepen our backbends, to engage more musculature than we need to on the back of the body, rather than spending the time opening the front of the body. Of course, we do need to use muscles on the back. I’m not saying don’t use them at all. But, it’s typically not as much as we think. So be mindful of that. It could just be that you’re over-trying in the middle to upper back when you do your backbends, which results in the mid-back feeling sore in urdhva dhanurasana. To keep it out of your low back, for instance, would be a reasonable reason to do it. It might just be too much. So, that’s my sense. It’s probably musculature.

Over-doing dropbacks

You know it could also be when you’re dropping back because you’re new to dropping back and you’re doing it assisted. That could be where you’re over-tightening musculature to try to get your hands closer to your feet when you land or something like that. So, that’s what my gut and my intuition are telling me. You’re trying a little too hard with the musculature on the back body at some point, somewhere within your process of dropbacks or wheel. I hope that helps. Anybody else, if you’ve got a question, go to yoganatomy.com/myquestion.

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