3 Reasons to Try Yoga for Low Back Pain

If you suffer from acute or chronic low back pain, yoga may provide some relief.  This month, the American College of Physicians published updated guidelines on back pain.  The new recommendations advise against prescribing painkillers for back pain, and suggest that before patients try an anti-inflammatory or muscle relaxants, they should try alternative treatments such as exercise, yoga or massage first.  Here is how yoga as a first resort can help. 

1. Most back pain resolves without intervention.  Some doctors compare back pain to the common cold.  While back pain is annoying and certainly painful, most of the time it does not result in or indicate a serious problem.  Scans like an M.R.I. can be misleading, showing abnormalities that may not even be related to the pain.  Yoga can provide some relief while you wait for your pain to resolve without further medical intervention. 

2. Not all yoga is created equal.  If the idea of taking up a physical activity while in pain seems too overwhelming, consider seeking out a gentle or restorative yoga class.  There are many alternatives to fast, vinyasa flow classes.  These classes offer supported poses and move slowly, allowing you to relax and restore.   

​3. Consider private lessons.  Working one on one with a highly trained yoga teacher allows you to work at your own pace and address issues specific to you.  While they cannot offer medical advice, a yoga teacher can work with you to find poses and sequences that offer you relief. Even if you only take one private lesson, you will learn poses that you can do at home to relieve pain.  If you have pain and want to attend yoga classes, you can also use a private lesson to learn modifications specific to you that you can apply in your group classes.   
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Kara Unal JD, RYT 
KareBoost Health