You may know her as yoga_girl—she's an Instagram star, after all. Rachel Brathan regularly posts her perfect yoga poses in amazing settings, from Caribbean beaches to atop a paddleboard in a green lagoon. But, after a lifelong battle with scoliosis and multiple accidents, it took Rachel years to become as flexible as she is now. Instead of opting for back surgery when her doctors recommended it, she used restorative asanas to slowly build her core and rehabilitate her troubled back.
Although there isn't mounting scientific evidence substantiating that yoga definitely relieves back pain, there are some studies that hint at the physical benefits of this ancient practice. Dr. Richard Besser, ABC News' chief health and medical editor, said to ABCNewsRadio that "there is some recent evidence to suggest that people with chronic low-back pain who do a carefully adapted set of yoga poses may experience less pain and improve their ability to walk and move."
For example, a study published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine found that patients with back pain saw improved "back function" after practicing yoga. Another study found that yoga helped alleviate back pain-induced disabilities even more effectively than exercise did.
On top of that, according to Dr. Amit Sood, professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, yoga may help reduce stress, which then can help soothe an achy back.
Should yoga be the first line of defense when treating chronic pain?