older couple doing yoga

Low back pain is a common problem, affecting about four-fifths of us at some point during our lives. Sometimes the pain puts people out of action for weeks. It may also become chronic and difficult to manage. Medications may help acute back pain, but they are not very effective against chronic low back pain. What can you do?

Yoga for Chronic Low Back Pain:

A recent review by the Cochrane Collaboration found that yoga might help. The investigators reviewed 12 different studies with more than 1,000 volunteers participating. All these studies compared yoga to physical therapy or to educational sessions to serve as a control. Only one study looked at yoga combined with exercises designed to strengthen back muscles and ease pain. That study did not show clearly that there was an advantage to including yoga along with exercise.

Considered all together, however, the other studies of yoga interventions demonstrated modest or moderate improvement in function as well as reduced back pain after three to six months.

Wieland et al. Cochrane Library, Jan. 12, 2017 

Pick the Instructor Carefully:

We have interviewed a few experts about using yoga to ease various sorts of pain, from shoulder problems to osteoarthritis. You can listen to Show 1065: How Can Yoga Benefit Everyone and Show 1043: How to Strengthen Bones and Fix Your Body with Yoga.  The experts agree that therapeutic yoga should be taught by a yoga teacher with training in adapting the exercises so they provide benefit and do not harm the patient.

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  1. Colin
    Los Angeles

    My sister is 72 and suffers from sciatica, spondylosis and osteoarthritis. She is on a slew of muscle relaxers and pain killers and they all have side effects.

    She practices 20 minutes of “easy” chair yoga exercises and I have started to do them as well. She found them on YouTube.

    I have always thought of yoga as being for someone young and flexible but that is not the case. You can find various levels of difficulty such as chair yoga which even us old timers can do.

  2. sk

    I am 52 year old female. Around 15 years ago my back started feeling stiff in the morning upon waking up. I am not the type to reach for pain killer so I thought about what I can do to feel better. I started doing yoga in the morning and back pain was gone. If I go off the track for few months, my stiff back comes back and I know it is time to go back to yoga. I do only about 10 poses lasting 15 seconds but it make world of difference. My husband had very bad back pain and stiffness for 18 years.

    He tried massage, acupuncture and allopathic medicines (he did not want to do yoga) but nothing helped long term till he started taking vitamin D. He takes 5000 mg every other day and his back is back to normal. He has tried few different varieties of good quality D and they all help him.

  3. Laura

    Can’t/Won’t do yoga. Would consider Pilates.

  4. Terry

    Doing yoga twice a week simply eliminates lower back problems for me. I find yoga to be the most difficult exercise that I do which is mostly cardio & sometimes avoid it & the back eventually becomes stiff & I’m back to yoga. Yoga also provides such a refreshing feeling that stays with me for sometime after the exercise.

    • Marilyn

      If you can’t do yoga I am concerned that pilates is not for you. It is a killer for me compared to yoga.

  5. Margaret

    After experiencing a recent bout of low back pain and a diagnosis of Spondylolisthesis, I incorporated Peggy Cappy’s Yoga Program “Back Care Basics” into my exercise routine. This program is part of Yoga Instructor Peggy Cappy’s “Yoga for the Rest of Us” Program. This has given me an opportunity for continued self-care and avoidance of surgery. I’m a believer!

  6. Connie

    I live in Norway and travel a lot to other countries. But no matter where I am, the internet allows me to take Terry and Joe in my backpack with their wonderful program “The People’s Pharmacy.” I learn so much and they are the BEST!

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