Yoga Improves Health, Including Help for Back Pain

Because of its popularity, yoga has caught the attention of researchers. And researchers are finding that practicing yoga regularly improves overall health as well as provides symptom relief for several different disorders, including back pain.

In a study published in 2011, researchers divided 228 adults with chronic back pain into three different groups that participated by using specific yoga practices, conventional stretching exercises or a self-care book. “The results showed that both yoga and stretching were more effective than a self-care book for improving function and reducing symptoms due to chronic low-back pain, with benefits lasting at least several months.” Another 2011 study with 313 participants supported the earlier research; scientistsconcluded that “a 12-week yoga program for adults with chronic or recurrent low back pain led to greater improvements in back function than did usual care.”

Yoga teacher and study investigator Alison Trewhela, DBL, told Medscape Medical News:

“Yoga aims to treat the whole person — not just the physical. The yoga program

offers poses for pain-relief and mental calming; mobilizing, stretching, strengthening

and relaxation; improving awareness of posture; education about how a healthy back

functions; and positive mental focus.”

The National Center for Complimentary and Integrated Medicine provides the following suggestions regarding the use of yoga for medical therapy.

  • Do not use yoga to replace conventional medical care or to postpone seeing a health care provider about pain or any other medical condition.
  • If you have a medical condition, talk to your health care provider before starting yoga.
  • Ask a trusted source (such as your health care provider or a nearby hospital) to recommend a yoga practitioner. Find out about the training and experience of any practitioner you are considering.
  • Tell all your health care providers, including your yoga instructor, about any complementary health approaches you use. Give them a full picture of what you do to manage your health. This will help ensure coordinated and safe care.

The possible health benefits to practicing yoga are well worth the time and the effort. It is a low cost activity, which is suitable for all age groups and levels of fitness. Consider trying yoga to build a healthier you.

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