Study Shows Yoga for Lower Back Pain Can Help

David Donald

Posing like a cobra, pigeon or butterfly could be a great way to ease your lower back pain.

New research shows that yoga for lower back pain is a safe and effective alternative to physical therapy.

The study’s findings were published this week in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

What is better for chronic lower back pain: Physical therapy, yoga, or Education?  This is the questions researchers wanted to answer as they embarked on a year long study of 320 participants who had chronic lower back pain.

The participants in the study were divided into three groups. The group attended a yoga class once a week to learn basic poses designed for people with lower back pain; the second group participated in physical therapy sessions; and the third group received education materials on lower back pain.

For the first three months of the study, participants attend yoga classes, physical therapy sessions or read education material. Participants were offered drop-in yoga classes or PT sessions or the option to perform yoga or PT exercises at home during the following 9 months. Researchers evaluated participants on the level of pain and dependence on prescription pain medication.

yoga for lower back pain
Participant Guidebook showing poses used in the study

When the study began, 70 percent of the participants were taking some form of prescription pain medication to manage their back pain. After 3 months, only 50 percent of participants in the yoga and physical therapy group were using prescription pain medication. The education group remained unchanged.

Yoga is a physical exercise that focuses on controlling breathing, meditating and mastering bodily postures. Those who practice yoga report receiving health and relaxation benefits.

If you are new to yoga and suffer from chronic lower back pain, it’s important to find a program that is specially designed to help with your condition.

A herniated disc, degenerative disc disease, spinal stenosis, spondylolisthesis, and a fractured vertebrae are some of the conditions that can cause chronic lower back pain.

Ask your physician or spine doctor if a taking yoga for lower back pain is right for you.

A guidebook that details the poses taught to participants of the study are available. Yoga instructors can also download a teacher training manual to tailor class for people with lower back pain.


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