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Good Housekeeping
Jennifer Chan, Assistant Managing Editor
November 13, 2011

Yoga and Other Stretching Exercises Effective for Alleviating Chronic Back Pain

Research shows that doing regular stretches can help get rid of or minimize back pain. By Jennifer Chan

Chronic back pain is hardly life-threatening, but it’s an evil we can all do without. Thankfully, a study reported in the Archives of Internal Medicine reveals that there are now ways to treat or, at least, minimize chronic back pain without emptying your bank account. 

In an effort to determine which method would have the most effect on chronic back pain, the researchers studied 228 adults who all suffered from back pain, randomly dividing them into three groups. Each group was assigned a method to work with for a specific span of time. One group (91 participants) was tasked with doing yoga once a week for 12 weeks. Another group (92 participants) was tasked to attend stretching classes once a week for 12 weeks. The last group (45 participants) was, in turn, given the self-help book method of treatment. 

Which group do you think fared the best? 

Upon analysis of the results, the researchers found out that all three methods had, in varying degrees, contributed to minimizing chronic back pain. Between those who did yoga and those who performed stretching exercises, there appeared to be “no statistically or clinically significant differences” at all. However, both groups did turn out to be surperior over the last group, which only relied on a self-help book.

Apparently, the two methods’ advantage over the self-help solution was their physical component. According to the researchers, “physical activity involving stretching, regardless of whether it is achieved using yoga or more conventional exercises, has moderate benefits in individuals with moderately impairing low back pain. Finding similar effects for both approaches suggests that yoga's benefits were largely attributable to the physical benefits of stretching and strengthening the muscles and not to its mental components."

So whether you choose yoga or stretching, the point is to get moving. Chronic back pain is something anyone can deal with but it’s not something you have to live with. 

If you're interested in taking up yoga, you can check out these articles to learn more about it:

You can also try these other routines that include stretches:

To prevent yourself from getting back pain, you can follow these tips too:

(Photo by lululemon athletica via Flickr Creative Commons)

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Jennifer Chan
Assistant Managing Editor
Jennifer Chan was a contributing writer for Female Network for two years before formally joining the team as a staff writer in July 2012... Read more...
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