Age-old exercise beats back pain, competition

Florida A &M University is known for its hills, and those hills can be one of many causes for the back problems affecting some students.

Most students carry two or more books everyday and walk up and down two or more flights of steps, which can be bad for the back. Adults often ignore pain, and assume it will go away. But ignoring the problem can lead to more serious injuries.

For that reason yoga is slowly becoming a sure way to ease the pain of the upper body. 

According to, overuse and under use of the back are the most common causes of back pain.

In some cases it’s when the person is moving the upper body at a fast pace and putting pressure on the body that back pains arise.

Some joints and ligaments, especially in the cervical and lumbar regions are the most common areas of pain.

Back problems, if not taken care of, will only worsen with age.

Thus, some experts think that Yoga may have a specialized area of exercise that will target the upper body and the back.

Back pain is the most common reason to seek medical attention according to The Psychology of Yoga Benefit organization.

Yoga has consistently been used to cure and prevent back pain by improving strength and flexibility.  If back pains are ignored it will cause long-term damage, but there are signs to watch for when having pain in the upper body.

It starts with the difficulty of passing urine, but numbness in the back or genital area, as well as numbness and the sensation of walking on pins and needles are some symptoms of back pains.

Symptoms like weakness in the legs accompanied by a shooting pain down, and an unsteadiness while standing, should be immediate cause to see a physician according to The Psychology of Yoga Benefit organization.

Back pain can also come as a result of tight hamstrings and weak abdominal muscles.

Yoga teaches good posture, which can alleviate these conditions over time.

However, it is not a quick fix, and results will come slowly and steadily.

The Group Health Cooperative did a study of 101 adults with chronic lower-back pain. It compared the benefits of yoga and a conventional therapeutic exercise.

Three treatment methods were compared: Viniyoga, Physical Therapy, and The Back Pain Handbook.

The study participants were between 20 and 64 years old, but were mostly women in their 40s who suffered from chronic back pain.

The first group took classes in Viniyoga, an easy to learn style of yoga that emphasizes safety. The participants who took the weekly yoga classes for 12 weeks experienced the most mobility and the biggest decrease in the need of pain medication.

The second group attended therapeutic exercise classes taught by a physical therapist.

The third group was instructed to read a copy of The Back Pain Help book.

The study showed that 76 percent of participants who took the yoga classes improved by at least two points on the Roland Disability Scale, one of the most commonly used and recommended tools for assessing disabling effects of lumbar spinal disorders.

“The study suggests that for people who are looking to do something for themselves, you could clearly say that yoga is the best,” said Karen Sherman, an epidemiologist and researcher with Group Health Cooperative in Seattle, and the lead author of the study.

Yoga can improve not only back health, but also sleep cycles, energy and endurance levels, as well as grip strength.

Knowing when to stop the pain is important and yoga will not always be the route to go to first.

Always see a physician before making a self-diagnosis of back pain. Yoga can ease the pain and may get rid of it all together, but only a physician can say if it’s the right way to go.

Contact Ashley Gibson at