Yoga proven to help with chronic back pain

Although many yoga teachers will have anecdotal evidence from their students about how their back pain has been helped or improved through yoga, there is now real evidence to back (!) this up. The world’s largest ever scientific yoga study, research by the universities of York and Manchester, has found that people who were given a specially-designed 12-week yoga programme experienced greater improvements in back function and more confidence in performing everyday tasks than those offered conventional forms of GP care. Over 300 people were involved in the research study.

Ouch my back! Image CC by Wuhon on Open Clip Arr

You can read a press release about the research here or a more detailed article here. With apparently 80% of the UK population suffering from back pain at some point in their lives, knowing the best ways to manage it is very important. The study found that yoga provided not only short term benefits over three months, but also longer term benefits after a year.

More information about the study can be found on the Yoga Trial website, and on the Yoga for Back Pain Web page which has been set up by the yoga teachers who designed the programme. A book and CD are available to purchase from the Yoga for Back Pain website. Yoga teachers may be interested to know that there is a separate version of the book which is a manual for teachers, and courses are also offered in learning how to teach the specific 12-week lower back care programme.

6 thoughts on “Yoga proven to help with chronic back pain

  1. Yoga done CORRECTLY together with a good daily home exercise program will certainly help with alleviating back pain.
    However, I see so many patients who have hurt their back after pushing themselves too much at their local yoga class.
    Make sure your Yoga instructor gives you suffiicent supervision particularly if you are new to Yoga

    • Hi Marianne
      I agree, yoga teachers can provide suitable adjustments and advice to those with back care issues. As with any form of physical exercise, each yoga student must take responsibility for understanding their own physical body, its limitations, how it is feeling/doing on a daily basis, when they can challenge themselves and when they need to back off (no pun intended). It’s possible to hurt yourself doing anything, infact some of my regulars come in and say ‘ooh, I hurt my back gardening last week’ and so I make sure that they keep things gentle that week in class and we do appropriate things for them. It’s a shame that you’ve seen patients that have hurt themselves in yoga when it is also very beneficial to people’s health.

  2. Hi, I’ve had chronic back pain for 25 years and have finally found what helps me out….it has been a mix of learning the Alexander Technique and following Sarah Key’s exercises which are based on Ivengar yoga…when I am at a suitable point I aim to do much more yoga to keep me moving as I get older…if you are interested in looking at the blog and perhaps commenting its at http://www.backpainsurviving.com. Many thanks.

    • Hi Sarah, thanks for your personal comment and I’m glad yoga and other movement methods are useful for your back. I have one of Sarah Key’s books (well, until I lent it to someone 1.5 years ago!) and it seemed very useful advice. I shall look at your blog soon.

  3. Pingback: Yoga for healthy lower backs | Holistic yoga with Alyson

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