For those with nonspecific back pain, exercise is a very important part of treatment. When a cause for back pain isn’t found, it’s likely rooted in muscular dysfunction – such as tension, weakness and imbalance – which is hard for the average medical professional to detect. Exercise that focuses on the core muscle group is ideal for people with lower back pain.
What is the best exercise program? A variety of fitness classes can be found almost anywhere, and knowing which one is best for your back can be difficult. Generally, people with back pain are thought to benefit from yoga and Pilates. Of the two, yoga is by far the more extensively researched.
Researchers concluded that, across the 10 trials, evidence was “strong” for both short-term and long-term pain reduction with yoga, “strong” for short-term reduction of disability and “moderate” for long-term disability in people with back pain. See more on the review at www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov.
This review shows us that the results of research into yoga for back pain are consistently positive. And it is no surprise. While there are many different types of yoga, most, and particularly those pursued by back pain patients like viniyoga and Iyengar, emphasize core strength, flexibility, stress management and body awareness. By strengthening the muscles of the core, yoga promotes proper posture and body mechanics. Flexibility training helps keep the body limber and prevents or corrects patterns of muscle tension. By promoting a state of calm, yoga can help manage stress and, with it, stress-related physical pain. Finally, by making you more aware of your body, yoga can prevent the postural and biomechanical dysfunction that often lead to pain.
Those looking to do yoga have options. The classes are highly popular; you likely won’t have a hard time finding one offered at a gym, community space or dance studio in your area. If you prefer a structured program that you can do from home, you can buy a DVD or peruse the internet. One great online resource for yoga instruction is www.doyogawithme.com. Ranging from beginner to advanced levels, from 10 minutes to well over an hour, there are a dozens of videos on this site to keep you active and interested.
Yoga is likely one of the cheapest and most effective methods for back pain management. As with any exercise program, start small and work your way up to longer and more challenging sessions.