Good News For Yoga, And For Your Back Pain

Yoga, as well as intense, regular stretching eases back pain, researchers report
Yoga, as well as intense, regular stretching eases back pain, researchers report

But yoga is different. After about 8 years doing "hot" yoga in Cambridge, I no longer consider it exercise. It's more like a total-body-mental-health-anti-aging-pain-elimination practice that I suspect I'll do for the rest of my life. It's not as cheap as jogging, true, but unlike other forms of exercise, I don't really have to be "up" for yoga: I can do it when I'm tired, annoyed or feeling chubby.

So I always get a zing of pleasure when mainstream medicine acknowledges the benefits of yoga. Here's the latest, from The New York Times: a study found that weekly 75-minute yoga classes, or a regular practice of intense stretching (sounds kind of like yoga, no?) can help relieve chronic low-back pain:

The study is the largest and most thorough to date to look at whether yoga has an effect on chronic low back pain, a problem that affects millions and has no surefire long-term remedy.

A number of earlier studies suggested that regular yoga classes might benefit back pain sufferers, though most were limited by small sample sizes, short study periods and other flaws.

The latest study, published in The Archives of Internal Medicine, involved more than 200 people who were followed for up to 26 weeks.

“This is good news for yoga,” said Karen J. Sherman, lead author of the study and senior scientific investigator at Group Health Research Institute in Seattle. “The smaller studies which hinted that yoga might be helpful all had problems one way or another. This is a much larger study, and the findings are robust.”

This program aired on October 25, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.

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Rachel Zimmerman Reporter
Rachel Zimmerman previously reported on health and the intersection of health and business for WBUR. She is working on a memoir about rebuilding her family after her husband’s suicide. 



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