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The safe way to do yoga for back pain

Updated April 11, 2021

The popular mind-body practice can be one of the best ways to soothe an aching low back, as long as you are careful.


 Image: © FatCamera/Getty Images

Yoga is a gentle practice that is ideal for maintaining back strength and flexibility. It's also one of the more effective tools for helping reduce low back pain, the most common source of pain and disability among older adults.

"Yoga helps strengthen and stretch back muscles that might be tight, which improves mobility," says Dr. Lauren Elson, medical editor of the Harvard Special Health Report An Introduction to Yoga (www.health.harvard.edu/yo).

The surprising side effects from using technology

Updated April 1, 2018

Repetitive motion and poor posture can lead to aches and pains.


 Image: © Johnny Greig/Getty Images

You've mastered the art of texting, emailing, and web surfing on your smartphone and computer. But along with that digital prowess, you've picked up an unexpected side effect.

"We get a number of patients who develop injuries from these activities," says Dr. Tamara Rozental, an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in hand, wrist, and elbow disorders at Harvard-affiliated Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

What to do for stubborn low back pain

Published December 7, 2017

How does a doctor treat her own back pain? By following the same advice she gives her patients: alternating ice and heat, doing core exercises, applying topical remedies, and taking over-the-counter medication only if other therapies are not effective.

Can spinal manipulation ease my low back pain?

Updated December 1, 2017

On call

Q. I suffer from recurrent episodes of low back pain. Is spinal manipulation really effective for back pain relief?

A. Episodes of low back pain are quite common among older men, and many seek relief through chiropractic care, which usually includes spinal manipulation. Spinal manipulation (or adjustment), as described by the American Chiropractic Association, focuses on using manual pressure to mobilize joints.

Where to turn for low back pain relief

Updated November 1, 2017

In most cases, a primary care doctor or chiropractor can help you resolve the problem.

Low back pain is one of the most common complaints on the planet. And you may wonder where to turn when you start experiencing some of those aches or twinges in the lower part of your back. Take heart. "In most cases, you won't need a specialist," says Dr. Robert Shmerling, a rheumatologist at Harvard-affiliated Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

When pain strikes

There are many causes of low back pain. Some of the most common include an injury to a muscle or tendon (a strain), an injury to a back ligament (a sprain), and a herniated or "slipped" disc (when the soft material inside of a disc between spinal bones leaks and irritates nerves). Many of these issues will eventually resolve on their own.

Yoga can help with low back pain relief

Updated November 1, 2017

In the journals


 Image: © Wavebreakmedia Ltd/Thinkstock

Low back pain? Try yoga. A study published online July 20, 2017, by the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that low back pain sufferers who completed a 12-week yoga program reported less pain and better quality of life compared with those who received standard care, such as medication, physical therapy, and exercise.

The study specifically looked at military veterans, average age 53, 74% of whom were men, who had experienced chronic lower back pain for at least six months. The 12-week program consisted of two hour-long instructor-led yoga sessions per week, with home practice encouraged. The sessions emphasized poses to stretch and strengthen the core and improve joint mobility. Relaxation and breathing techniques helped to reduce tension and pain perception.

Lessons from a chronic pain management program

Published September 13, 2017

Comprehensive programs for chronic pain involve a variety of components, from body mechanics to nutrition to occupational therapy and beyond. And while there is no easy fix for chronic pain, and sometimes no permanent fix at all, unexpected victories can be made in the search for answers.

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