Lower back pain is one of the most common complaints heard by doctors in Britain. Whether it’s the symptom of a chronic illness or the result of too many days spent hunched over a computer or working in the garden, back pain can cause problems at work, make certain free time activities impossible, or hinder getting things done around the house. Although practitioners have realized the health benefits of yoga for centuries, in recent years scientists and researchers are also turning their attention to yoga as a source of reprieve, particularly in the case of lower back pain.
For example, a controlled study by Boston University School of Medicine and Boston Medical Center found that those who practiced yoga in conjunction with their normal regimen of pain medication had their disability and discomfort decrease by at least a third, while those who only used medication had their pain go down by a mere five percent. On top of that, participants in the first group reported that their intake of medicine shrunk by eighty percent.
A similar study by Richard Stockton College on lower back pain discovered that not only was irritation reduced, but that relaxation and concentration noticeably increased. The group dynamic of the yoga class also played a role, the study reported, as participants felt camaraderie and a sense of trust inspired by their instructor.
For my part, I’ve had many of my students tell me they used to suffer from lower back pain and have found it greatly lessened or completely erased by regular yoga practice. Most recently a young woman with an inflammation on her spine began yoga at the urging of her physical therapist, and found that after only a few weeks she could get back to things she had been forced to abandon from back pain, from simple household tasks like hoovering to cycling and jogging.