Stretching is key to yoga’s back pain relief



Yoga can help improve the symptoms of chronic low back pain, but it’s unlikely to be the meditation aspect according to researchers. Publishing online in the Archives of Internal Medicine, Karen Sherman PhD and colleagues expected yoga to ease back pain more than stretching exercises so they conducted a trial study of 228 adults.


They found that both yoga and simple stretching exercises benefitted those with moderate chronic low back pain more than those who were given with self-care books advising on exercise and lifestyle modifications. However, there were no differences in improving function between yoga and the stretching exercises, leading the researchers to conclude that it is mainly the stretching involved and not the meditation component.


The study was limited in size, but the take home point is that both yoga and stretching are good, safe options for those with chronic low back pain. Dr Sherman notes that it is “important for the classes to be therapeutically oriented, geared for beginners, and taught by instructors who can modify postures for participants’ individual physical limitations”.



Sherman KJ, et al “A randomized trial comparing yoga, stretching, and a self-care book for chronic low-back painArch Intern Med 2011.


Photo credit: Nicholas via flickr

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