Practicing Yoga for Back Pain May Reduce Your Suffering
If you’ve ever had low back pain, you’d know the agony and frustration. That searing pain seems to come out of nowhere, making it difficult for you to get up and go to work, or even to spend time with your family. Sometimes you can also lose sleep over it – literally.
Around six out of ten Americans experience low back pain, according to a survey conducted by the American Physical Therapy Association. Low back pain can be so debilitating that it became the leading cause of disability globally in 2016.
Contrary to the common belief, low back pain doesn’t only affect people who are on their feet all day. It also happens to 54 percent of people who spend an extended time sitting, according to this same survey.
The most common treatment people use for low back pain is heat or cold pack. Others will reach for pain medicines, either over-the-counter or prescription. About a quarter of people cope by limiting their movements. Realistically, who’s in the mood to move around with that kind of intense pain?
Although you may feel relief when you rest your aching back, staying still for longer than one day may slow down your recovery. In fact, you should try to stay as active as you’re able, specifically exercising your back.
Staying active actually will help your body maintain its best condition. Movement and activity will strengthen your muscles and help maintain their flexibility. Your spine will also receive the same benefits when you remain active.
Deciding to practice yoga for back pain is an excellent way to help manage your symptoms. Yoga is considered a low-impact activity, and it stretches your core and back.
You may be worried that doing yoga may hurt your back even more. But, let’s take a look at what science says about this.
Researchers have studied yoga in a variety of illnesses, including low back pain. A couple of notable studies show that yoga may improve physical function, reduce pain, and even reduce depression in patients with low back pain.
A study comparing yoga with standard medical care shows that doing 90 minutes of yoga twice a week for six months improves physical functions such as sitting, lifting, and standing. Participants who did yoga also experienced less pain and felt less depressed compared to those who did not.
Another study showed that yoga is as effective as stretching exercises in improving back functions and reducing pain. In this study, patients enrolled in a yoga class once a week for 75 minutes each. After 12 weeks, these patients felt less pain and more comfort in their backs.
These results are encouraging, and we need further studies to confirm the benefits of yoga for back pain.
Yoga Has Lower Side Effects Than Pain Medications
The benefit of doing yoga compared to taking pain medications for your low back pain is the lower risk of side effects. Pain medications, such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and acetaminophen, can cause stomach ache, nausea, and diarrhea. Some people may experience more severe side effects, such as anemia and bleeding in their stomach and intestine.
Similar to exercises, yoga may increase pain and muscle soreness in some patients with low back pain. There has been no report of serious harm with either yoga or exercise. However, the postures must be executed correctly to mitigate the changes of increased pain.
The American College of Physicians Recommends Yoga as a Treatment Option for Low Back Pain
Because of the low side effects, the American College of Physicians recommends physicians and patients to consider treatments without medications as the first step in managing chronic low back pain. Yoga is one of the treatments mentioned in this recommendation.
One important aspect when you want to do yoga to relieve low back pain is to choose programs led by trained and certified instructors. Let the instructors know about your condition so they can tailor the appropriate program for you.
The Bottom Line
If you have chronic low back pain and wonder whether you should do yoga, then wonder no more. Staying active and moving your body with yoga is good for keeping your back in its optimal condition.
Yoga may improve your low back pain with less risk of side effects if it’s done correctly. Make sure you follow guidance from your instructors and do it routinely to get the optimal results. You should also discuss this with your doctor so you can get the optimal care for your back.
*Written by Ida