In recent years, yoga has increased in popularity throughout the United States among all demographics. In fact, the number of yoga participants aged 50 and above has tripled during the last four years alone. Yoga classes have mass appeal for a variety of reasons; people can take yoga for the purpose of losing weight, toning muscle or even for pursuing mental or spiritual wellness. For others, practicing yoga can also be a way to minimize or even eliminate painful conditions.
Roughly 31 million Americans experience low-back pain at any given time. This type of pain is currently the leading cause of disability worldwide and is one of the most prominent causes of missed work and doctors’ appointments, according to the American Chiropractic Association. Making matters more complicated, back pain can be caused by many different factors and can be treated in various ways – some of which may be more effective than others.
Physical activity (along with therapeutic methods like chiropractic care, massage and acupuncture) can relieve this type of pain more effectively – and with fewer undesirable side effects – than conventional medications or surgical procedures can. It makes sense, then, that the kinds of classes offered by yoga studios could also go a long way in providing essential relief.
Can Yoga Classes Reduce Back Pain?
In short: yes, one of the many benefits of yoga can include the alleviation of back pain. According to a report published by the U.S. Department of Human and Health Services’ National Institutes of Health, researchers found that yoga was as effective as standard physical therapy for treating moderate to severe chronic low back pain.
It’s understandable as to why yoga might have this positive health effect. The practice of yoga combines stretching, relaxation and the strengthening of muscles. Many of the postures prevalent throughout different types of yoga involve stretching and strengthening the muscles in the back, as well as the abdominal muscles. This can help to support the spine and subsequently reduce back pain.
That said, back pain sufferers will need to put effort into choosing the right yoga classes. It’s best to steer clear of more aggressive options (like “hot” yoga or Ashtanga), as these will present physical challenges that may not be a good fit. However, studios that offer Vinyasa yoga, Hatha yoga, Yin yoga or Somatic yoga can all be great options for people who want to improve their back pain. Vinyasa, in particular, focuses on having a smooth transition between movements, which can ensure deliberate physicality and minimize the potential for injury. Before signing up or attending a class, make sure to find out more about the intensity and experience level to make certain it’s a good fit for your capabilities. Speaking with a studio instructor beforehand can also be highly beneficial in determining the best class for your needs. This can also be helpful in prearranging alternate postures instead of modifying more difficult postures mid-pose throughout the class.
It’s a good idea to discuss your back pain with your doctor prior to participating in any kind of exercise or treatment. But given the positive impact that yoga can have on back pain, it’s clear why this practice has become a go-to for many people.
To learn more about how yoga can support your wellness goals, please contact us today.