Yoga and Lower Back Pain

If you practice yoga regularly, you might not need a scientific study to tell you about its benefits and what it can do for you. But the latest buzz on the news this week is a new study released on Monday that showed that yoga and stretching are equally effective in reducing lower back pain.

The study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine followed 226 people for 26 weeks. Their mean age was in the 40’s till the 50’s and suffered from chronic lower back pain. They were divided into 3 groups: the first group was assigned to weekly yoga classes of 75 minutes that included breathing, 9 to 12 asanas (postures) and relaxation. They were also instructed to do 20 minutes of yoga at home on the days they did not attend class. The people in the second group were assigned to weekly stretching classes with focus on aerobic exercises and strengthening the core and legs. They also had to do 20 minutes of stretching on days they did not have any classes. The third group was the control. They only received a book that contained advice on how to reduce back pain.

After 12 weeks, both the yoga and the stretching group saw significant improvement in mundane daily activities such as walking up the stairs or bending down. After 26 weeks of the beginning of the research, the improvement of half of the people in each the yoga and stretching groups was more than 50 percent, whereas less than a quarter of the people in the control group saw improvement.

Building core strength and flexibility can help reduce pain and improve function. You should not stop exercising out of fear of pain. However, not all pains are created equal. You should listen to your own body and check with your doctor about what exercises should be practiced and what others to avoid.

I’ll share with you on my next post a safe sequence from yoga teacher and physical therapist Judith Hanson Lasater targeting back pain from Timothy McCall’s book ”Yoga as Medicine”.

Be well! Namaste.

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