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How Yoga Helps Relieve Pain

Quiet Your Mind, Soothe Your Body

-- By Stepfanie Romine, Certified Yoga Teacher
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In addition, a regular yoga practice may lead to:

  • Better management of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis reported significant improvements in their quality of life after starting a gentle yoga practice, according to a small study presented at the 2011 European League Against Rheumatism's Annual Congress. Participants in the 12-week yoga program, which also included breathing exercises, reported higher levels of physical activity and lower levels of pain. And a study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that hatha yoga was more effective than traditional therapeutic exercises when integrated into a treatment plan for those with osteoarthritis of the knee. The yoga practice doesn't need to be of the traditional variety, either: A pilot study published in the Journal of Gerontological Nursing of older adults living in an assisted-living community found that a seated (chair) yoga program was effective in improving physical function and reducing stiffness associated with osteoarthritis of the knees.    
     
  • Less back pain. Back pain affects 31 million Americans, and the National Institutes of Health recommends yoga as a way to ease pain and stretch tight muscles that contribute to back pain. One 2009 study funded by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, and published in the journal Spine, found that after six months of yoga, those suffering from lower back pain had significantly less pain, disability and depression. And another study, published in the Chiropractic Journal, found that just 12 weeks of yoga had a greater effect than standard medical care in those who suffered chronic or recurring back pain.
     
  • Relief from carpal tunnel syndrome. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that an eight-week yoga program was more effective than splinting of the wrist in treating carpal tunnel symptoms. The group who practiced 11 yoga poses aimed at building strength, stretching the wrists, and improving balance saw significant improvement in grip strength and less pain.
     
  • Migraine management. A study published in the journal Headache in 2007 found that yoga reduced pain, anxiety, and depression in those suffering from migraines, compared with those who used self-care. The group who practiced yoga reported fewer migraines during the three-month program.
     
  • Less post-workout pain. A study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research in 2004 found that when practiced after exercise, yoga lessened the effects of DOMS (delayed-onset muscle soreness), which typically occurs in the days following an intense workout.


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About The Author

Stepfanie Romine Stepfanie Romine
A former newspaper reporter, Stepfanie now writes about nutrition, health, fitness and cooking. She is a certified Ashtanga yoga teacher who enjoys running, international travel and all kinds of vegetables. See all of Stepfanie's articles.

Member Comments

  • I find that I am less sore if I pair a tough cardio or toning workout with yoga, also I have found yoga to be more effective then a prescription dose of Motrin at reliving menstrual cramping. - 3/24/2014 12:18:28 AM
  • KUMARIDESILVA
    Nice Article! I feel like I could be your mom: I used to do the Jane Fonda videos, hike and bike ride. After fracturing my hip three years ago my life became very different. I successfully used yoga as physical therapy. Today, although I suffered some permanent nerve damage, I'm mostly ok. And I teach yoga! - 10/10/2013 1:32:29 PM
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