Patients with acute low back pain who stay active despite the pain appear to fare better than those who limit their activity. Swedish researchers randomly advised 109 patients to follow one of two courses of action: “Stay active even though it hurts” or “Adjust your activity to the pain.” The patients were asked to keep a diary for seven days, noting how many steps they took each day, to what extent they could carry out their normal activities, and how they felt physically. They also completed a form to show whether they were depressed or not. Despite the pain, the more active group recovered more quickly and did not feel depressed at the end of the trial.
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Participating in a weekly 75-minute yoga class was linked to better back-related function and diminished symptoms from chronic low back pain in the largest-ever randomized controlled trial of yoga in the US. Intensive stretching classes produced similar results. Both types of classes emphasized the torso and legs.