Having aches, pains or outright injury in one's back can be a serious problem, one that should not be taken lightly. After all, lower back pain is the leading cause of missed work and job-related disability in the U.S., according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). With that in mind, researchers have conducted a number of studies into massage and yoga stretching benefits for the back.
A new study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine (AIM) determined that individuals who received massages for back pain were more likely to have improved function and fewer aches, compared to those who received typical care.
The research team, which hailed from the Group Health Research Institute, noted that after 10 weeks of regular massage, one in three participants with back pain felt greatly or entirely better. By contrast, just one in 25 people who received the usual care felt the same way.
However, massage is not the only way to loosen the kinks in one's back and assuage aches. Another study in the AIM compared the effects of using a physiological self-help book with yoga stretching for back pain.
The results were plain to see. After 12 weeks of yoga classes and another 14 weeks of health monitoring, patients who performed yoga exercises were much more likely to experience improvements in back function. Likewise, this group tended to report less back-related bother than those given the book-based self-treatment.
A similar study appeared in the journal Pain. Scientists from West Virginia University tested the effects of yoga on people who had suffered from backaches for at least a decade. Many of the participants took pain medications prior to the investigation.
The team found that the yoga-based interventions reduced pain intensity, disability and medication usage in a majority of patients.
In all, Americans spend around $50 billion per year on back pain, according to the NINDS.