Can Yoga Help Lower Back Pain?

Can Yoga Help Lower Back Pain?

The Risk of Lower Back Pain

An estimated 80% of Americans will experience back pain in their lives, with causes ranging from injury, herniated discs, scoliosis or compression fractures. Of all possible yoga injuries, lower back injuries are the most common. However, proper application of yoga can actually help relieve lower back pain.

How Can Yoga Help Lower Back Pain?

Many asanas, or yoga poses, strengthen the back, even if indirectly. For example, if you’re doing a position that strengthens your abdominal muscles, a key in the spine’s muscular network, you are likely relieving tension from your back muscles in the process. Even stretching your hamstrings inadvertently decreases back stress by expanding pelvic motion. Also, the fact that yoga supports posture, balance and alignment helps maintain the natural curvature of the spine — an important factor in reducing back pain and avoiding it altogether. Medical professionals will almost undoubtedly suggest practicing good posture while sitting or standing, and they also encourage exercise to strengthen back muscles. This makes yoga, used as a means of stretching and exercise, perfect for starting this process. Practicing yoga for your lower back will also help with other symptoms related to back pain, such as restlessness, insomnia, fatigue or irritability.

Research on Yoga and Back Pain

A study published in Archives of Internal Medicine even showed that yoga can even help those with chronic back pain, revealing less pain and more functionality in their lower backs with results lasting for at least 6 months after only 12 weeks of training. Of the test subjects, those that attempted to rehabilitate their pain through yoga and stretching yielded the most impressive results. With pain relief and flexibility being two of the top benefits of yoga, there are already millions of people practicing yoga today to relieve back pain.

Also, many healthcare professionals say that mood is a huge factor in terms of physical pain, especially back pain. Though psychological factors are rarely the cause of severe and prolonged pain, they can influence it immensely — but it’s up to you to decide if the influence is bad or good! Thankfully, recent Harvard medical studies found substantial evidence showing that yoga is effective in treating anxiety and depression, so practicing yoga can influence your physical well being by improving mental health in addition to physical health.

*Photo courtesy of Lauren Leduc.