Yoga for back pain is becoming more and more popular and with good reason. It combines three key aspects of the treatment of back pain: back stretches, back exercise and good posture. All three of these are targeted by yoga and although classes that specialize on the treatment of back pain are quite uncommon, most basic yoga classes are useful.
There is evidence that yoga for back pain is more effective than the standard treatments often suggested for the early management of back pain, including simple painkillers, exercise classes, manipulation of the spine and also alternative treatments such as acupuncture. This evidence comes from a study published last year in the Annals of Internal Medicine by a group from the University of Manchester and University of York – their study involved over 300 patients and compared conventional management of back pain to weekly yoga sessions. Outcome was measured on the basis of a disability questionnaire and found to be slightly better in the yoga group at three, six and twelve months from the start of the study.
There is evidence, also, that yoga is particularly effective for those with lower back pain – the most common form of back pain that most of the population will suffer from at some point in their lives. A study published in the journal Spine in 2015 demonstrated yoga was effective in helping those suffering from chronic lower back pain (symptoms lasting more than 3 months). These findings agreed with a previous study published in the journal Pain in 2012 – again targeting those with chronic lower back pain.
So you know the evidence that yoga helps but where do you start? The first thing to decide is whether to try yoga at home or attend classes. It may be wise to start with classes before continuing what you learn at home. When performing yoga or any other exercises you must stop if your back pain gets worse. If attempting yoga at home make sure you put a soft yoga mat down first or you could end up damaging your back muscles further!
There are many different yoga routines available and some are better than others when you are suffering from back pain. I recommend the following video as a very good beginners yoga routine for lower back pain but there are also some good yoga books.