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Effects-of-yoga-strength-training-and-advice-on-back-pain-a-randomized-controlled-trial | Blog | Physio.co.uk | Leading physiotherapy provider in Liverpool and Manchester.

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Blog summary of a recent study

Brämberg et al. BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders (2017) 18:132

An Interesting hypothesis!

I wanted to write about an article that has recently been published with an interesting hypothesis about the effectiveness of yoga on persistent spine pain patients.

There is plenty of research out there showing that yoga has positive outcomes for low back pain and disability when comparing against control groups. Yoga is associated with mindfulness as well, which also has its own merits when dealing with pain when compared to control groups. This study was designed to compare yoga versus a control group but also against a comparison group to mark the additional difference the mindfulness element may be making.

Before the trial, their predictions were that;

  •         Yoga and strength training will be better than control (evidence-based advice only) on outcomes of sickness absenteeism (sick days) at 12 months, and sickness ‘presenteeism’ (being at work even though you believe that you shouldn’t be) at 12 months
  •         Yoga will have superior outcomes on pain intensity and disability at 6 months.
  •         Yoga will be better than Strength training in in improving absenteeism at 12 months, and pain and disability at 6 months.

Pilates sessionDesign

This study was designed and conducted well;

The researchers used reliable study designs (power calculation, randomisation and clear inclusion/exclusion criteria), scoring 8/10 from PEDro (who assess the quality of research).

The Yoga group had 60 minute classes twice a week for 6 weeks and were encouraged to continue that even after the initial trial period.

The strength training group was designed and supervised by physiotherapists, and was comprised of 2 x 60min individually tailored sessions in the first week, followed by three further supervised weekly sessions. This group were also advised to continue with their training twice a week after the supervised sessions.

The data/results were collected by using monthly text messages for 12 months asking about days off work, and a questionnaire to measure Pain intensity and disability (Chronic Pain Grade Scale) at 6 months follow up.


Who stuck at it…?

To get the results they needed responses of course, so interestingly;

Over the year they were asked to adhere to the recommendation of exercising at least twice a week;

-54% of the yoga group did, whereas 34% of the strength trainers did and 42% of the advice group did.

Effects on pain and disability were among the main items of interest. The study found that there was a significant reduction in neck disability for the yoga group AND strength training group.

While back pain intensity reduced significantly ONLY for the strength training group compared to advice group and yoga group.

There were no other findings… this was not in line with what they were expecting!

Note – the conductors of the study went on to find that there was a correlation between the reduced number of sick days and the number of times they exercised per week.

In fact, the number of sick days reduced by more than 50% for the yoga group and 40% for the strength training group.Pilates sessionSo in summary;

  •         Yoga was better for neck disability vs the control group (advice only)
  •         Strength training was better for back pain intensity and neck disability vs the control group
  •         When yoga and strength training were compared, there was no major differences between the two interventions (except for a minimal reduction in overall pain in the strength group)

Take home message…

The moral of this story is;


This will have positive effects on pain and disability on many forms of neck and back pain.

We advise that you simply choose a hobby or activity that you enjoy, as this will greatly increase your chances of being willing to stick with it for a period of time. It is currently recommended that individuals perform at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise (or 75 minutes of intense exercise) per week.

If you feel that you require additional information on which types of activity may be beneficial for you, then please don’t hesitate to book in with one of our physiotherapists for an assessment by calling 0330 088 7800 or visiting Physio.co.uk