Good news to share with clients who worry that if they don’t practice yoga daily, they won’t get results: Attending yoga class just once a week can provide positive, measurable help for people with low-back pain.
A study published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine (2013; doi: 10.1155/2013/658030) reported that weekly yoga classes were as effective as twice-weekly classes for relieving low-back pain in low-income minority participants.
Researchers from Boston University School of Medicine and Boston Medical Center, both in Boston, wanted to determine whether yoga classes would benefit low- income patients suffering from back pain. “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,” said lead study author Robert Saper, MD, MPH, associate professor of family medicine at BUSM and director of integrative medicine at BMC, in a BMC press release.
Ninety-five low-income adults with moderate to severe chronic low-back pain participated in yoga class either once or twice weekly for 12 weeks. Instructors encouraged, but did not require, participants to practice at home. By study end, members of both groups had experienced improvement in daily functioning and substantial decreases in both pain and the need for pain medications.
“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,” said Saper.