Which is Better for Lower Back Pain Relief: Physical Therapy or Yoga?

Timothy Boyer Ph.D.'s picture
Pitting yoga against physical therapy for back pain relief

Do you feel that yoga is just too hippy-dippy for treating your lower back pain, and are considering taking physical therapy instead? Here's the latest on which is actually better for treating your lower back pain.

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Yoga has repeatedly been discussed as good way to solve lower back pain problems. However, you may feel more comfortable and confident in putting your back in the hands of a physical therapist rather than a yoga instructor at the health club. But is physical therapy really proven to be better for treating lower back pain than something as trendy as Yoga?

60 Second Back Pain Fixes

According to a news report from Boston University School of Medicine, researchers addressed that question with the focus on yoga's effectiveness in treating underserved patients with severe functional disability involving lower back pain.

In the study, 320 predominantly low-income, racially diverse adults with chronic lower back pain were randomly divided into 3 groups receiving either 12 weeks of yoga, 12 weeks of physical therapy or an educational book and newsletters. A 40-week maintenance phase followed consisting of drop-in visits or home practice for both yoga and physical therapy booster sessions as a continuation of the benefits each group received after their initial 12-week treatment phase.

Basically, what the researchers found was that the patients benefitted nearly equally to either doing yoga or receiving physical therapy, including during the 40-week period following the 12 weeks of either treatment. Furthermore, patients who did yoga or had physical therapy, required less pain medication than the group provided with just educational materials.

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The researchers concluded that treating lower back pain with yoga can be equally as effective as going to physical therapy.

Yoga Moves that Work for the Lower Back

So, what is it that makes yoga work for lower back pain relief? Essentially, it is the practice of breathing while making controlled, slow movements that both stretches and strengthens those muscles in the lower back and abdomen for a stronger core to help keep your body properly aligned in good posture. More about the importance of a stronger core and how to get one while losing weight can be found in this segment of Your 2018 Weight Loss Guide Step 8: Beating Back Pain.

Here are some animated demonstrations of four easy yoga moves you can do right now for lower back pain relief provided by Boston University.

References:

BU School of Medicine "Yoga Can Ease That Aching Back"

Annals of Internal Medicine. 2017; 167(2): 85-94 "Yoga, Physical Therapy, or Education for Chronic Low Back Pain: A Randomized Noninferiority Trial"

Image Source: Pixabay

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