Why You Should Be Doing Yoga for Back Pain
Quit popping pills—and start popping poses.
Yep, you read that right! According to a new study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, yoga can do more than help you beat that afternoon slump. Research says it could finally solve your chronic lower back pain, too.
The one-year study tracked 320 racially diverse, mostly low-income participants in the Boston area with chronic lower back pain. Participants were divided into three groups: those who took yoga classes, those who attended physical therapy (PT) sessions, and those who received an educational book and newsletters. (Here are 10 surprising things that could happen when you start doing yoga.)
As the results rolled in, researchers found that yoga for back pain is just as effective as physical therapy. Plus, not only were participants in yoga or PT sessions less likely to use pain meds when compared to the education group, but they also reported similar levels of satisfaction and quality of life.
“PT is the most common referral that physicians make for patients with back pain. It’s accepted, it’s reimbursed, and it’s offered in most hospitals,” study author Rob Saper, director of integrative medicine at Boston Medical Center, told NPR. However, thanks to this research, “maybe yoga should be considered as a potential therapy that can be more widely disseminated and covered [by insurance].”
And if you need another excuse to start rolling out your yoga mat, here’s one more: The American College of Physicians agrees! They recommend that people with back pain avoid pain medication and opt for more natural alternatives such as tai chi, yoga, or massages.
But hold up—you might not want to cancel your PT sessions (or toss your ibuprofen!) quite yet.
“Any single treatment approach is unlikely to prove helpful to all or even most patients,” said Stefan Kertesz of the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine and his co-author, Douglas Chang of University of California, San Diego. Still, they say this new study has shown that “yoga offers some persons tangible benefit without much risk.”
Originally published as Say Goodbye to Backaches: Science Confirms How to End the Pain Once and for All on ReadersDigest.com.