Yoga can help relieve the agony of back pain, a major review of medical evidence found.
The practice, which includes stretching and breathing exercises, is an effective way to improve mobility and ease the chronic discomfort, experts said.
They found yoga was twice as likely to improve the condition than simply doing back exercises – and also improved overall physical quality of life.
Lower back pain affects four in five people at some point in their lifetime. Most cases are caused by lifting a heavy object badly or bending awkwardly, and in most instances will go away within a few weeks.
Yoga can help relieve the agony of back pain, a major review of medical evidence found The practice, which includes stretching and breathing exercises, is an effective way to improve mobility and ease the chronic discomfort, experts said
But for patients with ‘chronic’ lower back pain the problem lasts for more than three months, and half see the problem recur within a year. For some, the pain can last for years or come back in waves.
Despite researchers estimating that powerful opioids are prescribed for roughly 40 per cent of cases, painkillers are ineffective for back pain.
The new review, published by the respected Cochrane Library, found that doing yoga exercises under guidance from an instructor can effectively reduce chronic lower back pain within six to 12 months.
Researchers at the University of Maryland in the US examined data from 12 clinical trials involving 1,080 people.
The participants – men and women aged between 34 and 48 – attended yoga classes lasting between 45 and 90 minutes, once or twice a week.
Patients doing yoga were compared to those who carried out back-specific exercises, or did not do any exercise at all.
Within six months, those who carried