Yoga Exercises Reduce Chronic Lower Back Pain

About 80% of all American struggle with lower back at one time or another in their life. A growing number of studies indicate that therapeutic yoga may be useful to reduce lower back pain and decrease the use of pain medication.

One study showed an 80% reduction in pain medication after 12 weeks of therapeutic yoga for back pain. The study targeted minorities, which tend not to have access to proper pain medication, physical therapy, and surgery. It adds to the list of studies, which shows that a combination of yoga poses and yogic breathing exercises is useful to reduce back pain, improve posture, and increase flexibility, presenting a valid alternative to pain medication and surgery.

The yoga group in the study was encouraged to practice yoga for back pain at home, were given a yoga CD and handbook, plus a mat, strap and block, and were told to continue their regular medical routine as well. In contrast, the control group just followed their regular medical routine for back pain, simply seeing their doctor and taking medication.

It is worth noting that the study participants in the group practicing yoga for back pain practiced yoga at home. This shows some promise that going forward, as the recognition of the benefits of yoga therapy becomes more widespread, more people may be empowered to take greater responsibility for their own health, simply by learning how to safely practice therapeutic yoga exercises tailored to their condition at home.

After the 12 weeks, those in the yoga group had far lower pain scores than the control group. The pain for the participants in the back pain yoga group decreased by 33%, and for the control group by 5%. The people practicing yoga for back pain also reported an 80% decrease in the use of pain medication in the hatha yoga group’s lower back pain, the control group’s medication needs stayed the same. At the end of the study, 73% of the back pain yoga group said they had overall improvement in back pain, compared with 27% of the control group.[1]

The study adds further evidence that practicing yoga for back pain can be an invaluable treatment alone or as an adjunct to other modalities, including chiropractic, supplements to lower inflammation, myofacial therapy, or massage. Yoga therapy enlivens the body’s inner healing potential to balance mind and body and promote health. Yoga does so in many ways that augment each other to promote holistic healing benefits. In addition to its effect on back pain, yoga also has been shown to help with numerous other musculoskeletal problems, including hyperkyphosis (excessive curvature of the thoracic spine), osteoarthritis (degenerative arthritis), chronic pain, scoliosis (curvature of the spine), fibromyalgia, osteoporosis, and rheumatoid arthritis.

Michael A. Scheinbaum, M.S., C.N.A., is a Natural Health Practitioner and author of Reduce Blood Pressure Naturally (XLibris, 2005). He is a certified practitioner of Axiatonal Process, MariEl, CranioSacral Therapy, Touch for Health, Integrative Awareness, and is a Tera-Mai™ Reiki Master. He also utilizes nutrition, diet, electro-acupuncture, acupressure, Bach Flower Remedies, gem elixirs, and other natural systems to enliven the clients’ inner healing power to create balance from a deep level of mind, body, and spirit


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