The New York Times reported the findings of a study at the Group Health Research Institute of Seattle. The findings confirmed that people with chronic back pain who took weekly 75-minute classes and also practiced yoga or stretching three times a week for 20 minutes at home reduced their amount of back pain.
The study examined 228 people. These people were then divided into three groups
- Group 1. These people took weekly yoga classes for 12 weeks. Activities included 5-11 postures, breathing exercises and “guided deep relaxation.” This group also received instructions on doing yoga for 20 minutes at home.
- Group 2. This group did stretching and strengthening exercises including aerobic exercises. The exercises focused on the leg and trunk muscles. This group also received instructions on doing stretching and strengthening exercises at home for 20 minutes sessions.
- Group 3. This group just received a book on back exercises and things to do to reduce pain.
The results of the study were published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.
After 12 weeks, both the yoga and stretching groups reported less difficulty doing routine daily tasks like bending to put on their socks. The results continued to be good for these two groups after 26 weeks – one-half year. The study found that the people in the yoga and stretching groups did twice as well as with functional tasks as those in the control group. Many in the first two groups said their pain felt significantly better and were very satisfied with the results.
The doctor who ran the study cautioned that yoga may not work for everyone. She said that the amount of yoga that helps would vary from patient to patient. The doctor also stated that the stretching exercises were deep stretches and not the light stretches most people do after a workout. Each stretching routine could last two minutes instead of the 30 second routine done in light stretch workouts.
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