Lower back pain is arguably one of the most uncomfortable, stubborn, and frustrating conditions. It results in a pile of pain medications and doctor’s bills, often with little-to-no relief. Fortunately, yoga therapy might come to the rescue.
Yoga’s growing popularity can be measured by the many versions of it that have sprung up. There’s power yoga, hot yoga, and even beer yoga. And, yoga’s been known to relieve body stiffness, stress, respiratory disorders, and mood swings. These benefits are reason enough to expect yoga to relieve lower back pain as well, isn’t it?1
What Causes Lower Back Pain?
Lower back pain involves stiffness and decreased movement in the lower back. You might also have difficulty standing up straight. While acute low back pain lasts only a few days to a few weeks, chronic back pain can last for months or longer.
Lower back pain is the second most common reason for Americans to see a medical professional. The pain usually hits after you’ve picked up something heavy. It could also happen if you move suddenly or sit in one position for too long. This is because these actions cause sudden injury to the muscles and ligaments. Other things that can cause lower back pain include these:
- Spine fracture from osteoporosis
- Cancer of the spine
- Muscle spasm
- Herniated or ruptured disk
- Spine curvatures
- Strains and tears
- Arthritis conditions
- Problems related to pregnancy
Pain relief medications and surgery can help heal a lower back pain. But, if you’re keen on alternative therapies, although the research is still new, yoga therapy involving meditation might relieve back pain.2
What Is Yoga Therapy?
Yoga is quite popular in America with approximately 3 million people practicing it. Yoga therapy involves the use of postures, breathing techniques, and meditation to heal mental and physical disorders. Of late, it has also been effective in treating psychiatric disorders such as depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress (PTSD), and schizophrenia. Yoga might even be an effective treatment for addictions.3
Other disorders that yoga has touched upon and relieved include reducing heart disorders, obesity, and blood pressure. And recent studies have linked yoga postures with lower back pain relief.
Yoga Postures And Lower Back Pain Relief
Studies state that yoga, specifically Iyengar yoga, reduces pain and improves function in the lower back. Iyengar yoga is a type of slow, controlled yoga that uses props like blocks, blankets, benches, and belts to help people perform poses. This ensures that they have proper physical alignment needed to get the full benefits of various poses, especially if they’re new to yoga or have certain physical limitations. However, this needs to be done under the guidance of a professional.4
Regular yoga practice is considered to have the same effects as physical therapy. But, if you’d like to start off slow, a small study conducted recently has shed light on the possibility of meditation relieving lower back pain.5
Meditation For Lower Back Pain Relief
Although relatively new when it comes to research, these two mind and body practices improve pain and functional limitation caused by lower back pain according to a study conducted by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.6
- Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR): This practice involves mindfulness meditation that requires focusing on and being aware of inner experiences, such as bodily sensations, feelings, thoughts, and memories. It also involves observing these experiences without any judgment.7
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): This is a form of psychotherapy that trains individuals to modify specific thoughts and behaviors.
There were 342 participants in the study, between the age 20 and 70 years, who had back pain for more than 3 months without any specific cause. In two separate groups, the participants attended 2-hour sessions of MBSR and CBT over 8 weeks. After 6 months, improvements in functional movement and pain management were higher for 61% of the participants in the MBSR group and 58% of those in the CBT group. After 1 year, both treatments showed moderate benefits.8 An easy way to get into meditation is to start off slow under the guidance of a professional.
Although yoga therapy could be highly effective when it comes to lower back pain, it’s important to know that professional guidance is extremely important to avoid injuries. It’s also crucial to try alternative therapy like yoga and meditation only in addition to conventional treatment for the best results.
|↑1||Cabral, Patricia, Hilary B. Meyer, and Donna Ames. “Effectiveness of yoga therapy as a complementary treatment for major psychiatric disorders: a meta-analysis.” The primary care companion to CNS disorders 13, no. 4 (2011).|
|↑2||Low back pain – acute. U.S. National Library of Medicine.|
|↑3||Yoga: In Depth. US Department Of Health And Human Sciences.|
|↑4||Lower back pain? Yoga therapy can help. Harvard Health Publishing.|
|↑5||Yoga Similar to Physical Therapy in Helping Low-Back Pain in a Diverse Urban Population. National Institutes of Health.|
|↑6||Two Mind and Body Practices for Chronic Low-Back Pain Better Than Usual Care Alone. US Department Of Health And Human Sciences.|
|↑7||Meditation. Victoria State Government.|
|↑8||Meditation and cognitive-behavioral therapy ease low back pain. National Institutes Of Health.|