Yoga may help feet, ease migraine

Peter Wehrwein

Contributor, Harvard Health

It seems like thumbs-up might be yoga’s newest asana.

I wrote a blog post earlier this month about two studies that suggest yoga is good medicine for bad backs, although in one of the studies stretching exercises were equally effective.

Yoga came up during my interview with Australian researcher Hylton Menz, one of my sources for the front-page article about foot pain and problems and how they might lead to falls for the November 2011 issue of the Harvard Health Letter. Sure, there isn’t a lot of research to go on, conceded Menz. But yoga seems to be a good way to keep your feet strong and flexible, he explained, and so probably helps with staying on them.

Yoga was also endorsed as a possible treatment for migraine by Dr. Paul B. Rizzoli, co-author of The Migraine Solution, a book being published by Harvard Health Publishing and St. Martin’s Press, which is scheduled to come out in January 2012. Near the end of an interview in his office at the John R. Graham Headache Center at Faulkner Hospital in Boston, I was asking Dr. Rizzoli about ways to treat migraines that didn’t involve taking a medication—everything that comes under that nebulous “alternative medicine” heading. Yoga is a personal favorite of his for his patients, said Dr. Rizzoli, because it is widely available, affordable, and very likely has benefits beyond migraine.

Biofeedback may have more supporting evidence, he told me, but the problem with biofeedback is that it’s neither widely available nor reliably covered by health insurance.

Further reading on yoga from Harvard Health Publishing

We’ve written a lot about yoga here at Harvard Health Publishing. My colleagues at the Harvard Mental Health Letter published a piece about yoga for anxiety and depression two years ago. The Harvard Heart Letter was cautiously optimistic last year about what yoga could do for your heart. And my next-door neighbors at the Harvard Women’s Health Watch have reported on yoga’s benefits for women’s sexual function and back pain.

Related Information: Harvard Health Letter


  1. Anonymous

    Nice post on Yoga….It helps to motivate people to conscious for their health…

  2. oneil

    Wow great write up.Early in the morning (5:00am) is the best time for me to do YOGA, it helps me start my day strong i love it.

  3. Maria

    I have never heard of this. Thanks for sharing the article.


  4. Paul

    Thank you for this article, and for all those who have commented because it has been very helpful to me.

  5. Gerard Butler

    Yes yoga is great exercise for me so thanks for you information.

  6. Dana Shefer

    Hi I just love Yoga and like you said it healpd my feets a lot! The change of the pain was dramticly changed after I started to do Yoge.

    Thanks for a great post!

  7. David

    My girlfriend is a Yoga fanatic and tells me it may be the cure for just about anything. I am not sure if I quite believe that but there are obvious health benefits to the muscular and spiritual alignment that Yoga brings about. A sense of relaxation comes about which would aid migraines I imagine. I personally prefer music for relaxation, particularly playing my digital piano.

  8. Dr John Schmitt

    It makes a lot of sense to see that yoga will help with migraines. By doing yoga, you’re taking your mind off of stressful situations, allowing your mind to relax and at the same time putting it to action working your body and muscles. I’ll have to consider using this with some of my patients.

  9. Alexander Vergara

    Yoga is a nice one at worlds because each day I workout early morning yoga activities, now I have fresh mind and my face is also very fresh when we start yoga activities in our heart is good whacking at all times.
    Yoga is the best exercise for your flexibility, balance and strength. It is such a stress relief as well. We can provide infinmitas ways to correct and alleviate allergic disease Sinusitis chronica.

  10. Heather Smith

    thanks for posting this topic. Now i know that when doing yoga, it makes you more fresh and healthy. thanks for the idea you’ve given me. And one more thing, i will practice yoga.

  11. Anonymous

    Ok, I am not buying into yoga taking care of of my foot pain, but I am hurting and willing to try anything. I will happily eat my words if it does!

  12. Anonymous

    I been doing Yoga for some time now and it is so effective that I feel so healthy all the time. Thanks to this very informative blog I gain new info to level up my Yoga.. From now on I will visit your site regularly.

  13. Pamela Ritche

    The use of Yoga is nicely described in your post.

    Yoga is a nice physical exercise. We need Yoga to concentrate our attention in fixed destination. But if we dont take exercise regularly we will have to face several side effects like bulky, tiredness and so on.

  14. Anonymous

    Yoga is nice one in the worlds because every day i am workout early morning yoga activities now i have fresh mind and my face also very fresh,once we start yoga activities in our heart is good beatings in all times,so very thanks for this posts,so please follow that activities.

  15. Gail

    Yoga is the best exercise for your flexibility, balance, and strength. It is such a stress relief as well.

  16. Anonymous

    Yoga is a good habit for every one and it removes many diseases. Nice post thanks for the posting..

  17. Anonymous

    Yoga is a good habit for every one and as u say it removes many diseases. Nice post thanks for the posting..

  18. Hey, you used to write great, but the last several posts have been kinda boring… I miss your super writings. Past few posts are just a little bit out of track! come on!

  19. Greg Miller

    I enjoy seeing the natural approach taken prior to using the pharmaceutical approach with all the side-effects. Thank you for going in that direction. Harvard and a few other top institutions are blazing this non-drug therapy approach as a first choice and not a last resort.

    There is also research published in 1999 by Dr. Hirohito Kita, M.D. of Mayo Clinic on sinusitis, a common cause of migraines. Dr. Kita states that 96% of sinusitis is caused by a fungal infection.

    My mother experienced recurring migraines when she was on supplemental oxygen for emphysema and COPD. After reading Dr. Kita’s research and reviewing a Clinical Mycology textbook I bought some olive leaf extract nasal spray from the local health foods store which eliminated the headaches in less than 15 minutes.

    My mother’s doctor had prescribed antibiotics, which according to Clinical Mycology textbooks, “ensure the chronicity of fungal infections.” The antibiotics provided no relief. The headaches would persist for an entire day and sometimes into the next.

    I had tried Tylenol, Advil and aspirin, at different times, which also did nothing. I truly did not think olive leaf extract nasal spray would do anything but I was out of options and I knew it wouldn’t hurt her.

    I later found olive leaves mentioned in the book of Leviticus. When a stone in someone’s house had mold growing on it the rabbi would wrap it in olive leaves and bury it.

    My mother’s headaches eventually became less frequent. I also soaked her spare breathing tube in apple cider vinegar, another natural anti-fungal.

  20. Rick

    reply to Ray: Yoga can indeed help tennis elbow. Often these types of problems result from the body’s unbalanced and therefore ineffective efforts to stabilize a joint. Yoga therapeutics can help you to identify and strengthen the weaker side and stretch any tightness they may be interfering with your ability to stabilize the elbow. It’s important to find a teacher who has been trained in yoga therapy (Anusara or Iyengar for example).

  21. Anonymous

    I read that people who do yoga are healthier than any other group of exercisers. I would say the awareness training could make that true. Any more research on this?

  22. Andy

    I’ve had a friend who practised Taichi for a few years and he told me that he no longer experiences such frequent migraine headaches.

    I heard that Taichi is something similar to moving meditation. Could the meditative nature of Taichi makes one less stressed and thereby relieve migraines?

  23. Yoga Teacher

    Yoga is a practice designed for the human body and soul to keep it in top shape. While it facinates me to see all the constant studies, if you look back on thousands of years of history, the reports are in…Yoga works! It is a carefully crafted science that aligns our bodies correctly so that we stay in great physical shape. I teach this at many of my yoga retreats where people can truly understand what good health is.

  24. Andy Yeo

    I strongly believe that Yoga is a good alternative non-medication relief for migraine cause it can reduce tension which is one of the triggers for migraine.

    There are also other alternatives to migraine medications.

  25. Dr Greg Millar DC CCEP

    Like most alternative health forms, Yoga has a broad spectrum of uses. Over the years, I have in fact recommended Yoga for back problems, neck problems, joint problems, foot problems, flexibility and range of motion issues and some others. I have never thought about it for heart issues or for anxiety and depression however both make sense. As a Madison Al Chiropractor, I see many musculoskeletal problems many of which could be helped with Yoga and other exercises and stretching. I feel however, that my more mainstream colleagues in allopathic medicine would just say “there goes that Chiropractor again treating with hocus pocus YOGA.”

  26. Personal Fitness Training

    Yah,Yoga doing a great work to keep our body fit.Thanks for such a great blog. This will help the people like me a lot.

  27. Mandy

    Yoga is really a great method of maintaining the fitness and to remain healthy. Thanks for such a great blog. This will help the people like me a lot.

  28. Anonymous

    Yoga is an alternative medicine,have become popular as a kind of low-impact physical exercise, and are used for therapeutic purposes, this is a better way of living stressful problems.

  29. Claire

    I completely agree about the many benefits of yoga. I am training for a marathon and am starting yoga next week because I feel like I will be prone to a whole slew of injuries if I don’t focus on stretching, balance, and coordination in general! On another note, I work for a biotechnology company in Lakewood, CO called Aegis Creative Communications. My company recently produced an app for iPhones and iPads called CladeHealth Tracker which is a personal health record that tracks the multifaceted aspects of your health so that you can maintain balance, regularity, and organization in life. CladeHealth Tracker keeps all of your health information in one place so that you can have it on hand whenever it is needed. This information includes details on your various healthcare professionals, your medications, your past procedures, your conditions, your family’s health history, any advance directives you might have, your health insurance information, your allergies, and your lab reports. It also includes the ability to bridge associations between healthcare professionals and their prescribed medications, procedures, diagnosed conditions, etc. If you could check out the website and maybe mention us in a blog it would be really helpful! When it comes to a person’s health, it is so crucial for the individual to be aware and in charge. We are also on Facebook and Twitter so please find us and “like” and “follow” CladeHealth Tracker. I don’t typically like trying to “sell” things to people, but I think a personal health record could be very useful for many different people. So if you have the time to spread the word, it would be much appreciated. Thank you!

    • Ray

      I have deep faith in yoga. I had tendency of getting cold easily. I have reduced a lot through yoga.

      I am a tennis player. Recently I have developed a tennis elbow. I have learned that exercises can be very helpful in curing tennis elbow. My question is that can yoga be applied to cure tennis elbow?

    • gout

      I agree with you to some extent. Good and fantastic blog on Yoga. I am interested very much in
      such publications and sure will keep visiting your blog to check your
      messages and news as well.

  30. Dr.Subhash Dabir

    Yoga is a ancient technique which can relieve many health problems if done correctly.Pranayam-breathing control steps reduce the tension &leads to healthy mind,body.

  31. Dr Nishant S Yagnick

    i love the harvard blog and website. i’m hoping to develop something similar in our institution here in Delhi, India, where I am an academic Junior Resident in General Surgery. I wish the blog would include experiences in medicine and surgery by students in Harvard Medical School. I’ve been trying to write about what Surgical Residency is like in Delhi. do read my blog if you’d like to know..

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