In case you think of yoga as nothing but an exercise or lifestyle trend with impressive staying power, it’s time to think again. Though the practice was only introduced to the western world in the last century or so, yoga has existed since the 5th or 6th century, and has long been highly regarded for both its physical impact and its role in spiritual and mental strength.
Beyond the benefits touted in your local gym’s fitness class brochure, yoga has been proven to be extremely helpful for those suffering from lower back pain, improving mobility and easing pain.
In fact, a recent study out of Boston Medical Center reported that the practice of yoga is one of the best alternatives to traditional physical therapy for the treatment of chronic lower back pain after following over 300 adults who took a 3-month yoga program.
The 320 chronic back pain sufferers were divided into three groups, including a control group that was provided with a telephone support resource and educational self-help books about back pain relief, but which did not engage in any type of therapy or activity.
In addition to the control group there was a group that received over a dozen one-hour physical therapy sessions over the three-month timespan, and a group that was signed up for weekly 90-minute yoga classes during the same period. Both the physical therapy group and the yoga class group were also encouraged to pursue exercises at home during the three months of the study, and then continued their participation for an additional nine months, after which they were asked about the impact of the interventions.
Remarkably, both the group receiving physical therapy and the group taking yoga classes reported extremely positive outcomes from these conservative approaches to pain. Participants felt that the experience was positive and indicated that they were able to either lower their reliance on pain medication or eliminate it entirely. This was not the case with the group that only received information and phone support.
The information from this study is extremely encouraging and sends a profound message about the importance of movement in treating lower back pain.
It is particularly notable that yoga is a practice that can be pursued in the comfort and privacy of your own home once you have learned the moves properly and are certain that the poses that you practice are appropriate and help (rather than exacerbate) your particular problem and physical condition.
If you are considering taking up yoga to provide relief from pain, do your homework and make sure that the program that you sign up for is run by an instructor who has specific expertise in the workings of the lumbar spine and of exercises that will relieve lower back pain.
Seeking guidance from our spine specialty practice is the best way to make sure that you are doing the right thing and being led by the right professional.