People who experience chronic back pain are sometimes prescribed pharmaceuticals to alleviate their discomfort. However, these drugs do not address underlying problems and often come with an array of side effects.
As a result, researchers at the Group Health Research Institute examined three non-medicinal ways to reduce back pain to see which was most effective.
The study consisted of 228 participants who were assigned to study a self-help book, perform stretching exercises or attend yoga sessions over a 12-week period.
Authors of the study said that the groups who practiced yoga had similar positive results as those who engaged in stretching exercises, suggesting that lengthening and strengthening the muscles can help reduce back pain. Individuals in the self-help group experienced no improvements in their discomfort.
"Our results suggest that both yoga and stretching can be good, safe options for people who are willing to try physical activity to relieve their moderate low back pain," said study leader Karen Sherman, Ph.D., M.P.H.
The researchers noted that people who are inexperienced in yoga should start with a beginner's class conducted by an experienced instructor who can provide variations on poses for people with special conditions.