About six months ago I was curled up in pain. A sharp stabbing pain across my shoulders and up my neck. I had an MRI, six weeks of PT later the pain went away. A possible diagnosis of lower trapezoid weakness was provided. I stopped the PT a few weeks after the pain went away. Last weekend the pain returned with a vengeance. I revisited the hospital and they agreed with their previous diagnosis of it being muscular and how the muscles interact with the nerves crossing my back. This time the pain was so acute I was unable to lift myself off the sofa and literally had to roll off onto the ground before I could stand.
The treatment options presented were either more physical therapy or a steroid injection in the spine. I opted for neither and instead returned home and started reintroducing yoga to my daily routine. Within a matter of two days the pain was decreasing and now I have recovered my full range of pain free motion.
I have been following program developed by Joe Taft and Anna Levesque in their DVD Yoga for Kayaking. I takes me about 50 minutes to work through the routine and it has made clear and visible improvements in my flexibility and strength. The DVD focuses a great deal of opening up the chest and pelvis, two areas that kayakers typically have considerable tension in as a result of the repetitive nature of our body motions during paddling.
One of the many poses they teach is the Warrior II or Virabhadrasana II, this position has helped me considerably. First if fixed my back pain, second it helps with torso rotation for rolling, and thirdly it helps with muscles stretches in the legs which allows me to get lower during forward finishing rolls. In combination with the other poses the DVD walks you through I thoroughly recommend adding this one to your routine if you are not already using it regularly. You can read more about the Warrior II pose here.
Yoga for Kayaking can be purchased directly from Anna and Joe here.