We know that exercise and stretching is an essential part of relieving lower back pain, but clinical research is showing exactly what exercises are most helpful. In fact a clinical study recently released concluded that yoga is effective for easing chronic back pain. In this study the two groups of participants both complained of feeling regular back pain and discomfort. One group of subjects participated in yoga twice each week in addition to other back rehab while the other group relied only on their current rehabilitation program.
The study featured 100 subjects and documented the results over a six month period. The findings of this study revealed that the group of subjects who relied on yoga as part of back pain therapy felt a reduction in pain and improved strength and mobility. Moreover, they felt greater pain relief than that reported by the group that did not include yoga in their pain therapy regimen.
Finally, the yoga group also reported fewer instances of depression because they were active and less likely to succumb to negative feelings due to lack of mobility.
The reason yoga has proven so effective for lower back pain relief is because it tackles the inherent problems associated with back pain. Yoga increases muscle strength and builds up core strength, two factors that can cause or aggravate back pain. A solid core helps pull the abdominal muscles and surrounding muscles in so it doesn’t place undue pressure on the lumbar region of the spine. Yoga provides the body with the tools to prevent or reduce back pain.
It isn’t just the direct effects yoga has on reducing lower back pain; it is also the indirect effects that make yoga so appealing and effective. Yoga has been shown to reduce blood pressure and stress levels, which can contribute to back pain. The relaxing nature of yoga is just part of the appeal but what it does for the body is even more appealing. Yoga stretches and strengthens muscles so it acts as a massage and pain medication in one.
Yoga & Muscle Imbalances
One of the major causes of lower back pain is a muscle imbalance in which one set of opposing muscles is weaker than the other. This occurs often in patients who perform repetitive movements like swinging a golf club, steering a car or plane and typing or clicking buttons on a mouse. When one set of muscles is too strong and the others too weak, the joints become increasingly tight or loose that can cause back pain at any moment.
Since yoga focus on returning a mental and physical balance to the body, it is a very effective method of reducing pain. Yoga improves the flow of blood to the injured area. Regardless of how long you have been feeling pain in your lumbar region, yoga can help. In fact for some it may be essential because the first instinct of many back pain sufferers is to cease all forms of unnecessary physical activity. They stop walking, swimming or running, which can have a detrimental effect on the healing process.
Too much rest after a lower back injury can exacerbate the muscle imbalance because it contributes to weak back and core muscles that are essential to preventing back pain.
Yoga in general, contributes to an overall sense of well-being because it both the psychological and physical effects of lower back pain. The holistic nature of yoga can help treat underlying causes of back pain as well as treat the symptoms of back pain. By improving physical fitness it puts the body in a position to avoid future back pain by keeping the core and abdominal muscles strong.
In the aftermath of the onset of lower back pain you should take a period of rest from two to three days. If the pain has not subsided by then, make an appointment with your physician and see if yoga can help treat your lower back pain.