Back pain can be considered as a universal phenomenon as more than half of the global population is believed to be suffering from some or the other forms of back pain. One of the most common reasons is the lifestyle. Today, people have jobs that require them to sit before a computer for long hours. And when they are not working, people are on their mobile phones. Bad postures and lack of exercises lead to stiffness in the back for many. Oral medicines may bring down the pain but will not cure it. Physical therapies were always considered to be more helpful. Yoga was also believed to cure back pain but there were always cynics who dismissed the claim, at least until now.
Ways in which yoga alleviates back pain
Yoga involves stretching and breathing which helps muscles relax. These poses help in strengthening the muscles of the body, especially of the back, thereby alleviating any stress. The spine can remain healthy if the back muscles can retain their strength. It is required that while performing the different poses or asanas, one maintain the position for 10-30 seconds or for a minute. It helps in muscle flexing while promoting flexibility and thus removing stiffness and making the muscles more agile. The reason stretching is so much helpful in alleviate back and lower back pain is that during stretching, the hamstring muscles extend which facilitates pelvis movement, thus reducing the strain on the lower back. With yoga, different muscles in the body are stretched, thereby, blood circulation is enhanced which allows effective nutrient transportation to different parts of the body and thereby eliminating toxins also from the body.
Yoga also ensures that the body, the neck and shoulders remain in proper alignment. It also helps one maintain proper posture, thereby maintaining the right curvature of the spine, which is one of the main requirements for a healthy back.
Studies now back yoga’s effectiveness in curing back pain
Though yoga has been helping people across the world to lead a life devoid of pain, modern science never backed it whole-heartedly. There were always doubts but now there are many scientific studies that are proving that yoga can as good as a physical therapy, especially when it comes to treating back pain. One such study was published recently in some scientific journals. The study was conducted by a team of doctors, led by Dr. Robert B.Saper from Boston Medical Center in Massachusetts. The study was also presented at the 2016 annual meeting of AAPM or the American Academy of Pain Management.
The study was conducted on 320 participants who have all had chronic back pain but none of them were due to an anatomic cause. Dr. Saper also said in an interview that getting patients for the study was not difficult because it is a common ailment and not all are able to get a proper and right cure for their back pain. Three groups were formed, one of yoga, another of physical therapy and the third for education. The yoga group were given a yoga mat and a DVD so that they could practise it at home as well. The Physical Therapy group was given 15 sessions on a one-to-one basis and each session lasted for an hour. The group on education were given a book on back pain. The session lasted for 12 weeks, followed by a 52-week study of the patients.
It was found that 48% of the patients from the yoga group had a decline in pain for about 30%. The percentage for the physical therapy group was lower at 37% while the education group, it was 23%. Dr. Saper concluded that yoga might thus be in fact, more effective in curing back pain than physical therapy or education.
This mainstream scientific study has brought yoga in the forefront as a powerful remedy to treat back pain. This study will help in reinforcing the curative and preventive powers of yoga. As an exercise form that aims at engaging the body, mind and the spirit, practising yoga will only bring about beneficial effects. It is not just back but the overall body system that can become healthier and fitter with yoga.