New evidence suggests that yoga may help prevent dowager's hump, an age-related curvature of the upper spine.
Dowager's hump, also called kyphosis, is the result of advanced osteoporosis. The condition often causes muscle fatigue and pain. In severe cases, it may lead to difficulty breathing and limited mobility.
The study included 118 otherwise healthy older adults with moderate dowager's humps. On average, participants were about 75 years old, and 81 percent were female. Although most said they did not have physical limitations, about 75 percent reported pain four weeks before the study.
The participants were randomly assigned to attend one-hour yoga classes three days weekly or a monthly information luncheon for 24 weeks. The yoga class involved breathing techniques and poses to increase body awareness, flexibility and strength.
By the end of the study, spinal curve improved in the yoga group, but worsened in the control group. The authors also found that yoga significantly improved upper back pain and symptoms of sleep disorders.
Although these early findings are promising, the authors called for additional studies involving larger sample sizes.
Yoga has been studied for many other medical conditions. There is strong evidence that yoga may help treat high blood pressure. There is also good evidence that yoga may be beneficial for altitude sickness, anxiety, arthritis, asthma, heart disease, carpal tunnel syndrome, depression, epilepsy, lung diseases, psychiatric disorders, quality of life and substance abuse.
For more information about yoga, please visit Natural Standard's Health & Wellness database.