Back pain suffers, strike a pose: A study finds that a regular yoga program may improve back function more than standard care.
The study, released Monday in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, compared a 12-week yoga program to usual care for people suffering from chronic or recurring low back pain. Men and women were randomly assigned to a yoga program (156 people) consisting of 12 classes plus usual care, or 12 weeks of just usual care (157 people).
Those in the yoga program, which was geared to beginners and people with lower back pain, included poses and posture, breath control, relaxation techniques and mental focus. The program's goals were to improve mobility, strength and posture, and decrease pain. Participants were encouraged to continue the practice at home in between sessions.
The study subjects were given questionnaires about functioning with back pain at the beginning of the study and at three, six and 12 months. After three months those in the yoga group had better back function and were able to do 30% more activities on average compared with the usual care group. Although improved function was most evident at the three-month mark, progress was still seen at 12 months.