Yoga May Help Relieve Chronic Back Pain
Strengthen the back, improve posture, and even possibly lose some weight with a yoga type exercise.
If you suffer from lower back pain, you are certainly not alone. The National Institutes of Health estimates that about 80% of adults experience low back pain at some point in their lifetimes. It is the most common cause of job-related disability and a leading contributor to missed work days.
Most back pain is, thankfully, short term and only lasts a few days to a few weeks. But chronic back pain – that which persists for 12 weeks or longer – affects about 20% of pain sufferers. In some cases, medical and surgical treatment alone are not enough to relieve symptoms.
A new review of recent literature published in the Cochrane Library suggests that adding yoga to a self-care routine for low back pain may lead to a reduction in pain and an improvement in functional ability compared to those back-pain sufferers who do not exercise.
The review summarizes results from 12 trials that included more than 1,000 men and women in India, the UK and the US. The average age was between 34 and 48 years old. All studies included yoga interventions that were specifically designed for the treatment of lower back pain and were provided by experienced and qualified teachers.
One of the most common risk factors for back pain is not being physically fit – particularly having weak back and abdominal muscles that do not properly support the spine. The practice of yoga helps increase strength in these muscles. Well-conditioned back and abdominal muscles can greatly reduce pain. Yoga may also help relieve pain caused by poor posture.
Yoga as an exercise may also assist with weight loss – overweight and obesity puts stress on the back which leads to pain.
The Yoga Journal offers several suggestions for yoga poses that may help with lower back pain.
L. Susan Wieland, Nicole Skoetz, Karen Pilkington, Ramaprabhu Vempati, Christopher R D'Adamo, Brian M Berman. Yoga treatment for chronic non-specific low back pain. Cochrane Library, January 2017 DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD010671.pub2
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