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Yoga has benefits for people with chronic non-specific lower back pain, says a recent Cochrane Review.

This Review summarised the results of 12 randomised trials from 1,080 men and women with an average age between 34 and 48 years old. All participants had chronic non-specific lower back pain. The researchers compared practising yoga in a class to not doing any back-focused exercise. Five studies compared yoga with back-focused exercise, or added yoga for a back-focused exercise programme. All yoga interventions used were specifically designed for treatment of lower back pain, and were provided by experienced and qualified teachers.

They found that compared to no exercise, practising yoga improved back-related function and reduced symptoms of lower back pain. The research team also found that, compared with not doing any physical exercise, yoga can improve back function after six months and reduce pain after three months. Lead author Susan Wieland commented, “The yoga exercises practised in the studies were developed for low back pain, but people should also remember that in each of the studies we reviewed, the yoga classes were led by experienced practitioners.”