Yoga could help ease lower back pain, a new study suggests.
Writing in the journal Cohcrane Library, researchers from the University of Maryland School of Medicine say the ancient form of exercise could help the millions of Americans who suffer from lower back pain.
"We found that the practice of yoga was linked to pain relief and improvement in function," said the study's lead author, Dr. L. Susan Wieland, Assistant Professor of Family & Community Medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. "For some patients suffering from chronic non-specific low back pain, yoga may be worth considering as a form of treatment."
According to the researchers, 80 percent of Americans will suffer from lower back pain at some point in their lives. Furthermore, one third of adults report that lower back pain has interfered with their ability to perform daily tasks.
To reach their conclusions, researchers looked at 12 different studies that included more than 1,000 subjects, that examined the link between yoga and alleviating lower back pain. The studies examined the differences between those who practiced yoga and those who received “non-exercise intervention such as educational material given to a patient, or to an exercise intervention such as physical therapy.”
They found after three and six months, those who did yoga had “small to moderate improvements in back-related function, as well as small improvements in pain.”
Researchers did add that yoga was about as effective as non-yoga exercise in helping back pain, but because there were only a few studies that compared the two, more research needs to be done.
Yoga is both physical and meditative and dates back thousands of years to India. It has seen a surge in popularity in the United States in recent years. The participants in the studies analyzed by the researchers usually practiced Iyengar, Hatha, or Viniyoga yoga.
Researchers did say that since the participants in the various studies all knew they were practicing yoga, there would have been some bias in their reporting.
Furthermore, there were reports of “adverse effect” among those who practiced yoga over those who did not exercise, but those effects were about the same as those who tried non-yoga exercise.