Yoga: An Easy way to Prevent and Treat Back Pain

In a study funded by NIH’s National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH),  a team led by Dr. Robert Saper at Boston University School of Medicine and Boston Medical Center studied 320 predominantly low-income, racially diverse adults with moderate to severe chronic low back pain. Results were published online on June 20, 2017, in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

In this study, the participants were randomly divided into three treatment groups. One group received 12 weekly yoga classes designed specifically for people with chronic back pain; one received 15 physical therapy visits over 12 weeks; and one was given an educational book and newsletters about self-care for chronic low back pain. The researchers then continued to track the participants for an additional 40-week maintenance phase.

Though all three groups reported improvement in physical function and pain reduction,  people in the yoga and physical therapy treatment groups were significantly more likely than those in the education-only group to stop taking pain relievers after one year. The findings suggest that a structured yoga program may be a reasonable alternative to physical therapy for people with chronic low back pain.

While there can be many causes of lower back pain, a weak core and poor posture from constant sitting are two really common contributing factors. Though it’s always important to figure out what’s causing the problem, sometimes it’s impossible to change the fact you have to sit, or lift heavy things, for work.

Physical therapy can be expensive, but there are many ways to be involved in Yoga. You can download a program to do at home, join a fitness club for classes, or go to a special “yoga only” studio that will help you pick a type of yoga that fits you and your lifestyle.

Yoga is great for working on flexibility and core stability, correcting posture, and breathing—all of which are necessary for a healthy back. Pain is how our bodies tell us something is wrong so don’t stretch beyond the limit of pain .

Below are the poses recommended for back strength and ongoing back health.

•    Child’s Pose

•    Cat/Cow

•    Downward Facing Dog

•    Standing Forward Bend

•    Sphinx Pose

•    Knees to Chest With Slow Rock

•    Reclined Pigeon Pose

•    Reclined Supine Twist

 

Look these up. Try them. Hydrate. Stretch that back. Namaste.

Citations

  • Lewis K, Metcalfe S, Pearson T, Whichello R. Implementing Yoga Into the Management of Patients With Refractory Low Back Pain in an Outpatient Clinic Setting. J Holist Nurs. 2018 Aug 30;:898010118797193. PubMed PMID: 30160578