More people are beginning to turn toward yoga in hopes of easing their physical pain. But can it really work?
That depends on a lot of different factors, however a growing body of research shows that in some cases, yes, yoga may help alleviate some forms of pain. Anyone looking to avoid relying so much on pain medication or physiotherapy to manage their pain might find that yoga can have seriously profound affects on the body and the mind.
Not yet convinced? Here are just a few different ways that yoga has been shown to help people feel less pain.
Soothes Chronic Back Pain
Many people spend hours every day sitting in desk chairs, in their cars, and on their couches—a contributing factor to chronic lower back pain. In a study involving two groups of participants who either did yoga or physical therapy for a 12-week period, the people who did yoga reported less pain on average. Some of the yoga participants were even able to completely go off their medication, and the positive effects lasted for over a year after the study period.
Reduces Joint Pain
Higher impact exercise can be hard on the joints, but yoga is a low-impact alternative that has been shown to help alleviate joint pain. In one particular study, 75 sedentary adults with rheumatoid arthritis were split into two groups. One group practiced yoga twice a week with a teacher and once a week at home for a period of eight weeks while the other group acted as a control and did not practice yoga. By the end of the study period, the participants who practiced yoga showed significant improvements in joint health, physical functioning, and even their mental and emotional wellbeing.
Relieves Abdominal/Pelvic Pain
Women suffering from endometriosis can experience abdominal pain that may require medication or possibly even surgery. Yoga, however, could be a more natural and less invasive form of treatment. In a study involving 15 women with endometriosis, the women followed a yoga program by practicing twice a week for a period of eight weeks. By the end of the eight-week period, the women reported experiencing improvements in pelvic pain.
Improves Muscle Pain
Fibromyalgia is a condition that affects the muscle and soft tissue, causing chronic muscle pain and trigger points that are tender or painful. Treatments typically include medication and lifestyle changes (such as stress management), but yoga may offer a gentle, soothing pain relief alternative. To observe the effects of yoga on symptoms of fibromyalgia, a group of 53 women with the condition were instructed to follow an eight-week program involving gentle poses, meditation, breathing, exercises, yoga-based coping instructions, and group discussions. Upon completion of the program, the women showed significant improvements in their fibromyalgia symptoms and functioning—including pain, fatigue, and mood state.
Anyone looking to supplement their yoga practice with additional natural alternatives for pain relief might be interested in trying meditation, self-massage, or accupressure. This month’s Yogi Surprise Lifestyle box includes the Aculief wearable acupressure device, so keep an eye out for it when you receive your July box!
Image (edited) via missbossy