Physician- Heal Thyself!! – How My Low Back Pain in the Maldives Improved with Yoga


So here I am in paradise in the beautiful Maldives with acute low back pain and no McTimoney Chiropractor in sight. I arrived here a few days ago via Sri Lanka which consisted of an 11 hour flight and then a connection to Male the capital, before an ongoing boat transfer to the resort. My pain is central to sides with the right side being worse, going into both hip flexors, and radiating into the back of the right knee. On waking up most days I’m waddling like a duck and on occasion the pain is taking my breath away.  Leading up to my vacation, I was flat out with client sessions and pushing hard in my own fitness workouts with cardio and weights; and YES I was being lazy and not stretching out as much as I should have so not heeding my own advice that I give to my clients. The warning signs were there before I left with twinges and stiffness in the low back, tight hamstrings and tight calves. Sitting in the plane just brought it out fully.

As I’m not able to get McTimoney Chiropractic out here, I’m left to my own devices to be creative in my self-healing and recovery so I thought that I would talk to myself as I would talk to a client with similar symptoms, stuck somewhere without any other help. Yoga would lead the way.

“Your body is an amazing self-regulating, self-correcting wonder! Access its wisdom.”  Amy Leigh Mercree

Below are some of the yoga stretches that I was doing on waking up, just to get moving but than a further two more times during the day. 4 days in and my pain is now more a discomfort and I’m hoping another few days it will be gone.

I did a combination of the following stretches holding all between 1-3 minutes.

  • Child’s Pose
  • Cat/Cow
  • Downward Facing Dog
  • Standing Forward Bend
  • Sphinx Pose
  • Knees to Chest With Slow Rock
  • Reclined Supine Twist

Child’s Pose

Child’s Pose takes the pressure off your lower back by elongating and aligning the spine, which decompresses it and gives you a nice stretch.

  • Kneel on the floor or yoga mat with your knees hip width apart and your feet together behind you. Take a deep breath in, and as you exhale, lay your torso over your thighs.
  • Try to lengthen your neck and spine by drawing your ribs away from your tailbone and the crown of your head away from your shoulders.
  • Rest your forehead on the ground, with your arms extended out in front of you.


  • Start on all fours with your shoulders over your wrists and hips over knees.
  • Take a slow inhale, and on the exhale, round your spine and drop your head toward the floor (this is the “cat” posture).
  • Inhale and lift your head, chest, and tailbone toward the ceiling as you arch your back for “cow.”

Downward Facing Dog

Downward facing dog is a great way to stretch out the hamstrings and calves which can also give lower back pain and in my case were. If you’re extra tight, you can bend your knees a little bit to make the stretch more comfortable. For a more challenging stretch alternate from going on the toes of one foot and the heel of the opposite foot.

  • From Child’s Pose, keep your hands on the floor, sit up on your knees, and then lift your butt and press back into Downward Facing Dog.
  • Spread your fingers wide. Work on straightening your legs and lowering your heels toward the ground.
  • Relax your head between your arms, and direct your gaze through your legs or up toward your belly button.

Standing Forward Bend

This is a great stretch for the hamstrings and lengthening the spine, aiding in easing the lower back. Again, keeping the knees slightly bent if straightening the legs hurts the back.

  • Stand with your feet shoulder width apart.
  • Straighten your legs out as much as you can and let your torso hang down.
  • Tuck your chin in toward your chest, relax your shoulders, and extend the crown of your head toward the floor to create a long spine.

Sphinx Pose

This pose gives a natural curve of the lower back, but it’s vital to do it correctly without hyperextending the back.

  • Lie on your stomach, legs together and straight out behind you.
  • Place your elbows under your shoulders and your forearms on the floor as you lift your chest up off the floor.
  • Press your hips and thighs into the floor, and think about lengthening your spine while keeping your shoulders relaxed.
  • Sit up just enough to feel a nice stretch in the lower back. Pull the navel in towards the spine to avoid hyperextending of the back.

Knees to Chest with Slow Rocking

This stretch is great at giving a gentle massage to the lower back.

  • Lie on your back.
  • Hug both knees into your chest.
  • Slowly rock your torso back and forth while firmly holding onto your legs.

Reclined Supine Twist

This is my favourite stretch for the lower back because it gives me the greatest pain relief.

  • Lie on your back.
  • Hug your knees into your chest. Then, drop both knees over to one side as you twist your torso in the opposite direction.
  • Try to keep your knees and hips in line with each other as you draw them toward the floor, and keep your chest as square to the ceiling as you can.
  • Repeat on the other side.

In addition to all of the above I meditated daily, breathed in a healing colour to the pain, I swam backstroke and I walked on the beach. I made sure I got 9 hours a sleep a night which is a rarity for me and I had a couple of soothing massages. I listened to my body and its messages very clearly, not rushing, remembering that pain was the body’s way of telling me that something was out of sync. By the time I get back home I hope to be fully recovered following the above regime and I will book in to see my McTimoney Chiropractor too.

“Everything is within your power and your power is within you”

Janice Tractman