6-12 weeks of yoga made a difference in lower back pain and improved function
Lower back pain can be crippling. Not only does it affect your physical health but it also has an impact on your overall quality of life with lots of people reporting the onset of anxiety/depression and the reliance on painkillers to get through the day.
Anyone who’s ever struggled with lower back pain will tell you everything just becomes so
much harder. Most of us sit so much of the time now, and this may be contributing largely to the issue. It’s thought as much as 20% of the population might be struggling with this
Many people are now starting to turn to yoga for lower back pain and of course it makes sense after all, yoga can increase muscle strength, joint flexibility, and general body and postural awareness. However the emphasis on breathing and some visualisation means that yoga may also help to increase pain acceptance.
A review of 8 scientific studies1 involving over 700 patients looking at the efficacy of yoga for lower back pain and disability found that yoga results in a reduction in pain, and pain-related disability (improved function) and potentially therefore the need for pain medication.
Interestingly the review went on to state that the beneficial effect seen for yoga in reducing lower back pain and functional disability appears to be similar to and possibly higher than the benefits for the more traditional exercise therapies, cognitive behavioural therapy and acupuncture.
In any case before you run off to attend a yoga class to help with your back pain there are some important points to consider:
- Group classes don’t necessarily provide the specific support and guidance you need in order to target the lower back pain.
- For optimum results short practise times done frequently (15-20 mins daily or twice daily) is best. This helps counter some of the strain from sitting or standing for hours.
- Many yoga teachers lack the training and experience to deal with back pain/injury.
- Worst case there is the potential to cause an aggravation or exacerbation of the pain if you are struggling to keep up with a group class.
It’s for the above reasons that I work almost exclusively “one-to-one” with anyone struggling with back pain. Not only is it the safest way but the tailored attention means that I can design a short practise that is done at home to get better and faster results than you might get attending one group class weekly.
Of course the long-term goal is to potentially move across into a group yoga class but only after a sustained period of improvement.
For more info on the one-to-one sessions click on the link.
1. S Holtzman, RT Beggs. Yoga for chronic low back pain: A meta- analysis of randomized controlled trials. Pain Res Manag 2013;18(5):267-272.