Yoga for Low Back Pain
By Taylor Kitkowski PT, DPT, Cert DN
Should I Try Yoga for Low Back Pain?
It is estimated that almost half of the US population will experience low back pain at some point in their lifetime. Low back pain can cause both physical and mental limitations to everyday activities. Back pain can be shorted lived or last many years, and many people are unsure what activities or exercises may be beneficial to help relieve their symptoms.
Often, reduced mobility and poor core strength can contribute to low back pain. One form of exercise that combines both core strength and mobility is yoga. Yoga is a great low impact exercise to try for back pain that is likely to be more tolerable than high intensity exercises such as weight lifting or running.
Does Yoga Really Help with Low Back Pain?
A research study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine showed that individuals with chronic low back pain who participated in weekly yoga had reduced symptoms and improved mobility. Another study from the same journal showed that people who participated in a 12-week yoga program were able to reduce reliance on pain medication to manage their symptoms. Yoga is an excellent option for helping manage low back pain.
Where do I start with Yoga?
Beginning a new type of exercise can be intimidating and you may feel unsure where to start. Below is a list of videos great for beginners:
As you start to become more familiar with yoga, you can try additional videos or attend in-person. Your physical therapist is another excellent resource to assist you in beginning your yoga journey. Your physical therapist can discuss specific yoga posses that will be beneficial for your specific symptoms, guide you in modification for poses that are challenging or painful, and advise you in poses that may not be appropriate at this time for you to perform.
Can I Hurt Myself More with Yoga?
As with all forms of physical activity there is a risk of injury. When beginning with any type of exercise, it is important to ensure that you are performing the activities with proper form. Most yoga injuries are related to poor form or moving too quickly through the poses. Following a video, going to a class with a certified yoga instructor or reviewing yoga positions and proper form with your physical therapist can help reduce the risk of injury with yoga or any other type of exercise.
Other Benefits of Yoga
In addition to reducing low back pain, yoga has been found to have many other benefits including
- Reduced anxiety/stress
- Improved mental health
- Improved strength and flexibility
- Boost immunity by reducing stress
- Improved balance
- Improve cardiovascular function through breathing techniques
- Improve sleep
- Promote better posture and body awareness
Ezrin, Sarah. “16 Science-Based Benefits of Yoga.” Healthline, Healthline Media, 14 Dec. 2021, https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/13-benefits-of-yoga.
“Yoga Eases Moderate to Severe Chronic Low Back Pain.” National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 11 July 2017, https://www.nih.gov/news-events/nih-research-matters/yoga-eases-moderate-severe-chronic-low-back-pain.
Solan, Matthew. “Yoga for People with Back Pain.” Harvard Health, 30 Apr. 2018, https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/yoga-and-back-pain-2018041413652.