Yoga and Back Pain. Part 1.

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  by Alison Kavanaugh, PT student from Dalhousie University

Earlier this week we blogged about the rate, cause and side effects of yoga injuries. The current research shows that although injuring yourself in yoga is rare, of the side effects reported, the most common was back pain!

At first glance this information may seem alarming, however this finding may be in parallel with other evidence, which document back injury among most common injuries in general. Up to 85% of the population can expect to experience at least some back pain in their lifetime. (1)

Given the growing body of evidence supporting yoga as an effective treatment for back pain, especially low back pain, more people with a susceptibility to back injury may turn to yoga as a healing therapy. (2) That means, yoga may not actually be the cause of the pain or injury. It may not always be helping when applied in non-specifiec ways to people suseptible to back pain.

At this point, more research is needed to determine what specific postures are most commonly correlated with back injury and to identify the characteristics of people who may be especially vulnerable to back injury during yoga practice. (2)

… Next time we will check out the current research supporting yoga for back pain!


Alison Kavanaugh

Alison is a soon-to-be graduate of Dalhousie’s MSC Physiotherapy program. She is currently completing her final physiotherapy clinical placement at Therapeutic Approach Health Centre under the guidance of Michael Munro, PT and Yoga Educator.

Alison has gained experience as a physiotherapy student in a busy orthopedic clinic as well as in the IWK Children's hospital perinatal center and chronic pain department. As a result, she has had the opportunity to treat a wide range of acute and chronic conditions, including various musculoskeletal injuries and neurological impairments in all ages.

Alison is mid-way through completing her 200-hour yoga teacher training at Therapeutic Approach Yoga Studio and has been a dedicated student of yoga for many years. 

She is a strong advocate of a movement-based approach to physiotherapy and believes that exercise (including yoga!) and education can offer the most effective strategy for wellness and recovery.


(1) Andersson, G. B. (1999). Epidemiological features of chronic low-back pain. The lancet, 354(9178), 581-585.
(2) Holton, M. K., & Barry, A. E. (2014). Do side-effects/injuries from yoga practice result in discontinued use? Results of a national survey. International Journal of Yoga, 7(2), 152.