Can yoga relieve lower back pain?

Sarah LoBisco
Integrative Medicine
Studies have shown that yoga can help alleviate low back pain.

In fact, in 2007 the American College of Physicians/American Pain Society recommended it as one of its nonpharmacologic (nondrug) approaches for patients with back pain and who do not improve with medication. (

A 2011 study in the Archives of Internal Medicine reported improvement in participants who used yoga in a comparison trial to those who used a self-care book to manage their chronic lower back pain. However, the study also showed those who took yoga classes had similar positive results as a comparison group who took intensive stretching classes.
Sadie Lincoln
Sadie Lincoln on behalf of barre3
There are many yoga poses which can be great for easing lower back pain and lengthening the surrounding muscles.  For more gentle stretches, child’s pose, cat cows, lying twists or gentle cobras can be very beneficial. Using props, such as a bolster, strap or pillow can help to modify certain postures as well, giving you more support where needed.  At barre3, we often use straps to help us stretch or our core ball to support the low back. As back discomfort decreases, adding active poses such as crescent lunge, down dog and pigeon, can help to stretch the muscles in the hips and allow your back to move with a little more freedom.  If you are new to yoga, try taking a gentle yoga class as an introductory.  Be sure to let your instructor know you are experiencing back pain so that they can help you to find the postures that will work best for you.

Bend and twist? Totally bad news if you have an iffy back. But here are some poses that could have your back feeling fine: yoga poses.

In a small study, adults with chronic lower back pain reported experiencing 56% less pain after practicing yoga regularly for six months.

All the study participants received traditional medical treatments for their back pain. But half of the participants also took two 90-minute yoga classes twice a week in addition to practicing the moves on their own at home. They did a special type of Iyengar yoga designed to strengthen back muscles and ease pain and stiffness. And after six months, it showed! The yoga lovers not only reported less pain and better back function, but their moods were lifted, too.

Why is yoga so great for barky backs? Because it provides a gentler means of building back strength than other forms of exercise do. Plus, yoga is known for improving balance and flexibility, two extra-beneficial qualities for people in pain. But don't just jump right in! If you have back pain, talk to your doctor first about what kinds of exercises you can do.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.