I’ve recently become hooked on the TV series “Black Mirror.” I love the premise of the show that technology can enhance our lives but can also be destructive due to human nature. Which leads me to why this piece is about yoga and strength training. More and more, we’re seated at our desks for work, and looking down at our phones more than looking up at another person. With all of this, we are putting tremendous strain on our lower back and neck.
A study published in 2017 in the journal BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders surveyed 159 people, with most of them complaining of chronic back and neck pain. Participants were screened and then randomized to kundalini yoga, strength training or evidence-based advice. What researchers were trying to see was how many called in sick from their jobs because of back and neck pain, and how many went to work with these conditions. The participants then completed a survey via SMS text messages at baseline, six weeks and 12 months.
What researchers found is that the participants were taking fewer sick days due to back and neck pain. The study further found that participants who performed kundalini yoga or strength training at least twice a week had a significant reduction in sick days due to chronic back or neck pain.
The yoga positions were done either sitting, lying or standing. Kundalini yoga was used because the movements of this type of yoga are slower and easier to follow. Kundalini yoga is also a great choice because of its emphasis on psychological components like meditation and awareness breathing. The yoga class was for six weeks and was taught by an experienced yoga instructor at a yoga studio. The classes were for one hour, twice a week.
The two yoga programs that were used had five yoga postures (breath of fire, spine flex, spine twist, spine side bend and neck roll) and one program had nine postures (spine flex in easy pose, spine flex in rock pose, spine twist, bear grip, spine twist with locked elbows, shoulder lifts, neck roll, alternate bear grip and sat kriya). Each of these postures was performed every one to three minutes with about two minutes of rest in between.
The study concluded that strength training and kundalini yoga performed twice a week resulted in a reduction in taking sick days at work or attending work with chronic pain. While the study could not determine if the strength training and yoga were able to help with the symptoms of chronic back and neck pain, it did have a huge impact on reducing sickness absenteeism, or sickness presentism (going to work while sick).
Brämberg EB, Bergström G, et al. Effects of yoga, strength training and advice on back pain: a randomized controlled trial. BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2017; 18: 132.