A research study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found a twelve-week yoga regimen for adults with chronic or recurring low back pain improved back function better than standard care did. 313 adults with chronic or recurrent low back pain were included in the study. 156 used the twelve-week yoga program for their back pain, and 157 received standard care.
“Our results showed that yoga can provide both short- and long-term benefits to those suffering from chronic or recurrent back pain, without any serious side effects,” said the study’s lead author, Helen E. Tilbrook. (Source: USA Today)
The yoga group had better back function than the standard care group at months 3, 6, 9 and 12, meaning the improvement they experienced was more than just a short-term effect. The yoga program was twelve classes with a gradual increase in difficulty over 3 months. Each yoga participant also received an education pamphlet so they could read about the poses they were doing. Of the 156 in the yoga group, 12 reported adverse events, meaning they reported an increase in pain. Two in the standard care group reported increased pain
One possible explanation for the 12 who reported adverse events with yoga, is that for some reason the yoga program had 12 different teachers, and for beginners it might be confusing to have that number of instructors, because of the differences in teaching styles and yoga types. Another possibility is the varying levels of commitment depending on the individual, as some people are more open-minded and willing to try new things. These individuals could have experienced more benefit, whereas the less interested and less committed would not have embraced the new experiences with the same attentiveness and effort.
Primary funding for the study came from Arthritis Research UK. A study conducted in 2005 on yoga and back pain, also found doing yoga could be beneficial.
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