26: Support the Low Back with Tiffany Cruikshank & Jenni Tarma

We have an instinctive understanding of the importance of the spine, especially the weight-bearing structures of the low back. But given that the majority of us will have some experience of low back pain during our lives, perhaps we need a little help figuring out how to best support it during yoga practice and in daily activities.

In this episode, hosts Tiffany and Rachel explore the low back with Yoga Medicine teacher Jenni Tarma. Jenni co-teaches the Yoga Medicine Spine Anatomy, Disfunction, and Application Yoga Teacher Training. As an RRCA endurance coach, CrossFit Level 1 Trainer, and lifelong athlete, she specializes in mobility, movement, and injury prevention. She is also the Founder and Head Coach at Kaari Prehab, a company that provides customized mobility, recovery and injury prevention, and rehab services for athletes and other active people.

Listen in as we unpack the role and resilience of the low back and discuss the prevalence of (and possible contributors to) low back pain. We talk about the impact of posture, the need for both strength and mobility, and offer a wide range of yoga practices that yoga students and teachers can call on to support the low back. Throughout, you’ll hear the crucial impact our individual differences and circumstances play in determining which practices are helpful, and which are not.

“It is so central to how we feel as we move through our lives.” – Rachel Land


“There’s a theory that lower back pain is like a disease of civilization.” – Jenni Tarma

Show Notes:

  • The role of the low back and the importance of caring for it [3:25]
  • The staggering prevalence of low back pain and its potential causes [6:28]
  • Isolated versus full-body movement practices for low back pain [9:45]
  • Analgesic effects of isometric strength work, even for skilled athletes [13:57]
  • The role of fear in low back pain or dysfunction and a TCM perspective [17:18]
  • The impact of posture on the health of the spine [20:55]
  • Disk loading in different body positions [23:30]
  • “Bad posture” versus “good posture” and acknowledging individual variation [27:27]
  • The importance of thoracic mobility [35:35]
  • Tapping into deep, subtle core support for the low back [36:37]
  • Yoga poses and transitions that require more thought or care [44:55]
  • Opinions on yoga backbends [51:54]
  • Finding the right amount of challenge [57:20]
  • Recruiting the power of the feet and legs to support the low back [1:01:51]
  • More supportive practices: gentle off-loaded movement, myofascial release, slowing down, and more [1:04:14]

Links Mentioned:

Facebook | Instagram | LinkedIn | Jenni Tarma

“Our general population does not move nearly enough.” – Jenni Tarma

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