One Yoga Class A Week Can Help Low Back Pain, Study Says

Researchers at Boston Medical Center led the study recommending yoga over medication.

Yoga image via Shutterstock.

Yoga image via Shutterstock.

Researchers at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) and Boston Medical Center (BMC) studied how yoga can provide back pain relief, reducing the need for pain medication in lower income minority patients.

The 12-week study looked at 95 patients in two groups. The first group took just one yoga class each week and the second took two classes. Both groups had positive results, but the group that took two classes had no added relief, which means that just one yoga class may be all you need. Study participants also said that their ability to perform daily functions improved.

The results indicate that patients interested in trying yoga for lower back pain could benefit from attending a medically appropriate weekly yoga class. The study, published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, was led by Dr. Robert Saper associate professor of family medicine at BUSM and director of integrative medicine at BMC.

While previous studies have shown that yoga can be an effective treatment for chronic lower back pain, few have looked at specific groups of people. Boston Medical Center has many lower income minority patients and more than a quarter have limited English proficiency. “Lower income patients often have worse lower back pain due to limited access to both mainstream health care treatments and complementary treatments such as yoga, massage, and acupuncture,” Saper says. “Given the similar improvement seen in once weekly yoga classes, and that once a week is more convenient and less expensive, we recommend patients suffering from lower back pain who want to pursue yoga attend a weekly therapeutic yoga class.”