Yoga And Stretching Most Effective At Controlling Back Pain
October 25, 2011

Yoga And Stretching Most Effective At Controlling Back Pain

Researchers have announced the results of a study to determine how effective yoga classes were at reducing chronic lower back pain. Results indicated that yoga classes were more effective at reducing pain and improving back function than following the instructions of a book with advice on preventing and managing pain, but was not as useful as simple stretching classes, Genevra Pittman of Reuters Health reports.

The study, published online by the Archives of Internal Medicine, found that participants in both types of classes had better functioning and fewer symptoms after three months.

Dr. Timothy Carey, from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, who wrote a commentary published with the study, told Reuters" “We´ve known for a while... that exercise is good for back pain. Yoga, seems to be a perfectly good option for people with back pain, but it is not a preferred option.”

Karen J. Sherman, Ph.D., M.P.H., from Group Health Research Institute, Seattle, and colleagues explained, “We found that physical activity involving stretching, regardless of whether it is achieved using yoga or more conventional exercises, has moderate benefits in individuals with moderately impairing low back pain.”

“Finding similar effects for both approaches suggests that yoga´s benefits were largely attributable to the physical benefits of stretching and strengthening the muscles and not to its mental components.” The benefits of these approaches may last several months, the authors conclude.

The study divided 228 adults with long-lasting back pain into three groups. Patients in the first two groups went to 12 weeks of either weekly yoga or stretching classes and were asked to practice on their own between classes. Interviewers assessed their back-related function and pain symptoms at 6 weeks, 12 weeks, and 6 months.

The third group of patients were given a book with back pain-related exercise and lifestyle advice and both the yoga and stretching classes emphasized the torso and legs and 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, The Telegraph reports.

People who had gone to the group classes after 12 weeks, reported significantly lower scores measuring how much pain interferes with daily activities, compared to those given the book.

“Our results suggest that both yoga and stretching can be good, safe options for people who are willing to try physical activity to relieve their moderate low back pain,” Dr. Sherman concluded.

“But it´s important for the classes to be therapeutically oriented, geared for beginners, and taught by instructors who can modify postures for participants´ individual physical limitations.”


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