No aspect of ancient systems of alternative medicine has spread through modern society more than yoga. Originating in India’s Ayurvedic medicine, it has become a phenomenally popular activity for exercise and meditating. Here of course we’re interested in studies on health, and yoga has no shortage of that. The latest health breakthrough is in regard to back pain.
In the largest study yet, yoga was linked to better back-related function and less low back pain. It was published in the “Archives of Internal Medicine.”
In this health news, they found that back-related function was better and symptoms were diminished with yoga at 12 weeks. Also, people generally needed to use less pain medications for at least six months. Stretching, which yoga involves to a considerable degree, also did this.
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In the trial, 228 adults received 12 weekly 75-minute classes of either yoga or stretching exercises — or read a comprehensive self-care book. All had moderate back pain. These same researchers had used a smaller study to find that yoga eased chronic low back pain. The new one was to see in a larger group how yoga compared to stretching for back pain.
The type of yoga used was “viniyoga.” It essentially tailors yoga to specific individuals. The classes also used breathing exercises, with a deep relaxation at the end. For stretching, there were 15 different exercises, including stretches of the hamstrings and hip flexors and rotators. Each was held for a minute and repeated once, for a total of 52 minutes of stretching.
That both led to equal benefits on lowering back pain suggests that yoga’s benefit is largely physical, lying within the actual stretching and strengthening of muscles that occurs.
The study shows that if you suffer from non-severe back pain, both yoga and stretching are excellent ways to help yourself. They are good, safe options. With yoga, if you are just starting out, it’s important that classes are therapeutically oriented, geared for beginners, and taught by instructors who can modify postures to suit your limitations.
It’s another positive finding in the realm of yoga, which further solidifies the idea that back pain sufferers can use it to help end the suffering.