Yoga for Lower back Problems
Chronic back pain is one of the most common health issues faced by Americans. Around 80 percent of adults can expect to experience it at some point in their life. For those struggling to roll themselves out of bed in the morning or to bend over to tie their shoes, the problem seems incurable, despite all the available pills and exercise ideas. It's called "chronic" back pain for a reason: It just never seems to go away. According to a new study
Enlisting the help of yoga instructors, doctors and physical therapists, researchers at the Boston Medical Center developed a yoga course specifically designed to alleviate lower back pain. The course is not strenuous, focusing on gentle poses and relaxation techniques. The team's goal was to determine if yoga could be just as effective as physical therapy in helping deal with lower back pain.
To conduct the study, the researchers gathered 320 low-income adults from different racial backgrounds, all of which suffered from chronic lower back pain. Their average age was 46, and around 70 percent of them took medication for their back pain. Participants were then divided into three groups—one that went to the yoga class for three months, one that went to physical therapy for three months and one that received education (such as a back pain self-help book and a newsletter) for three months.
After three months, the participants in the yoga classes group attended more yoga sessions or practiced at home for the next nine months, while the physical therapy group did the same with physical therapy. The effects of pain medication were monitored throughout the course of the study.
The researchers found that the yoga course was just as good for the participants' backs as physical therapy. "The yoga and physical therapy groups showed almost the same amount of improvement in pain and activity limitation over time, " the study read. "The improvements in pain and activity limitation in the yoga and physical therapy groups were also found at one year and were similar to each other."
The study also found that though around 70 percent of participants were taking pain medication when the study began, the number decreased to around 50 percent at the end of the first three months, for both the yoga and the physical therapy groups. Those in the education group did not see a decrease in the need for medication.
So, yes, yoga is good for your back, but before you go and handspring your way into an inverted scorpion pose, remember that the study's results were based on a course made up entirely of gentle, low-degree-of-difficulty poses, like triangle pose and child's pose. Breathe easy, friends, and let that lower back pain melt away.