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Ed Yeates ReportingThe ancient practice of yoga may have found a place in western medicine. A new study shows it does in fact improve back function and reduce pain, but critics say one study is not enough.
The study divided patients into three groups. One focused on aerobic and strengthening exercises., the second followed instructions from a self care book on back pain, while the third practiced a specific kind of yoga.
Dr. Karen Sherman, Investigator, Center for Health Studies: "We used something called a vinee yoga, which adapts poses to the individual and also has a strong therapeutic component."
After 26 weeks the yoga volunteers reported better back-related functions and less pain.
Susan Schuarzberg, Study Volunteer: “The pain in my lower back was really interfering with my everyday life. The difference is really remarkable.”
Chris Smith, Study Volunteer: “I like the one where you’re on your hands and knees and you raise your lower back up and you stretch backward.”
While not dismissing the benefits of yoga, physical therapists like Dr. Jake Magel at the Orthopedic Specialty Hospital in Murray say we shouldn't read too much into these preliminary findings. He questions the size of the study.
Dr. Jake Magel, Physical Therapist, Orthopedic Specialty Hospital: "They defined low back pain as people with 12 weeks of low back pain, and they eliminated another whole series of patients that really contribute to a large portion of other people with chronic low back pain."
Dan Smuin is going through a prescribed set of conventional exercises as part of his physical therapy. Combined with exercises here and at home, he's hoping to relieve his back pain.
This latest study certainly does not suggest yoga as a replacement for conventional exercise therapy, but as a supplement, perhaps. The study simply opens a door physical therapists are willing to consider, but only with more studies..