Yoga, Stretching Ease Chronic Back Pain, New Study Suggests
Weekly yoga classes eased the suffering of those with chronic back pain, but weekly stretching classes are just as effective, a new study suggests.
"We've known for a while... that exercise is good for back pain," said Dr. Timothy Carey, from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, who wrote a commentary published with the study, as reported by Fox News. Yoga, he told Reuters Health, "seems to be a perfectly good option for people with back pain, but it is not a preferred option."
For the study, they divided 228 adults with long-lasting back pain into three groups, Fox News reports. Patients in the first two groups went to either weekly yoga or stretching classes for 12 weeks and were asked to practice on their own between classes. Both types of classes focused on stretching and strengthening the lower back and legs.
Patients in the third group were given a book with back pain-related exercise and lifestyle advice and information on managing the pain, according to Fox News.
Those who had gone to the group classes reported significantly lower scores on a questionnaire measuring how much pain interferes with daily activities, compared to those given the book, Fox News reports.
Finding that yoga and stretching had about equal effects means it was probably the stretching involved in yoga – and not the relaxation or breathing components of the practice that helped improve functioning and pain symptoms, researchers report in Archives of Internal Medicine, according to Fox News.