YHLB Yoga for Back Pain Research Findings and Journal Publications

Our University of York / Arthritis Research UK rigorous randomized controlled trial using the ‘Yoga for Healthy Lower Backs’ programme as the yoga intervention has led to five published papers:

  • Protocol (Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice 2011)
  • Pilot (Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice 2011)
  • Efficacy Results (Annals of Internal Medicine 2011)
  • Economic Evaluation (Spine Journal 2012)
  • Compliance and Data Analysis Models (Physiotherapy Journal 2012)

Additionally, it has been cited in:

  • over 250 research papers.
  • several Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analysis papers evaluating research into both low back pain treatments and yoga for back pain treatments
  • NICE Guidelines for Low Back Pain with or without Sciatica (long version)
  • Public Health England MSK ROI report and toolkit
  • Cochrane review of yoga for back pain


The two main published papers for University of York / Arthritis Research UK trial (in 2011 = internationally, the largest and most significant research trial on yoga –

1. Effectiveness Paper

Effective and safe Evidence-based Yoga Programme – ‘Yoga for Healthy Lower Backs’ (YHLB)
Yoga for chronic low back pain: A randomized trial’ Annals of Internal Medicine (1 Nov 2011) Helen E Tilbrook, Helen Cox, Catherine E Hewitt, Ling-Hsiang Chuang, Shalmini Jayakody, Arthur Ricky Kang’ombe, John D Aplin, Anna Semlyen, Alison Trewhela, Ian Watt, David J Torgerson

Click here to visit ‘Annals of Internal Medicine’ website (American College of Physicians) for research paper.

This UK RCT research with 313 participants found that specialised group ‘Yoga for Healthy Lower Backs’ classes led by multiple trained yoga teachers in 5 UK locations gave significant benefits to those with non-specific chronic and recurring low back pain. Benefits were maintained 12 months after beginning the 12-class yoga course and participants practised yoga at home.  Fully-resourced course.  Physicians and clinicians should feel comfortable referring those with a history of low back pain to this evidence-based safe and effective treatment option.  This is the largest research trial on yoga to date (2012), worldwide.

2. Cost-Effectiveness Paper

YHLB is Cost-Effective for NHS, Workplaces and Society
‘A Pragmatic Multi-centred Randomized Controlled Trial of Yoga for Chronic Low Back Pain: Economic Evaluation’ Spine Journal (15 Aug 2012)  Chuang LH, Soares MO, Tilbrook H, Cox H, Hewitt CE, Aplin J, Semlyen A, Trewhela A, Watt I, Torgerson DJ

Click here for research abstract http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22433499.

‘Yoga for Healthy Lower Backs’ programme would be likely to be a cost-effective treatment within an NHS setting.  It was shown to be a dominant treatment for society.  Over 12 months studied, those in yoga group had on average only 3.83 days off work compared to 12.29 in the non-yoga group – 70% reduction in work absenteeism.   Conclusion. Based on this, trial 12 weekly group classes of specialised yoga is likely to be a cost-effective intervention for treating patients with chronic or recurrent low back pain.

Cost-Effectiveness Press Release Link to The University of York and Arthritis Research UK’s Press Statement (Aug 16th 2012) Click here

YHLB Yoga in Research - Group Backcare Yoga

Some of the Many Reviews Citing our YHLB Research Papers:

NICE Guidelines ‘Managing Low Back Pain with or Without Sciatica’ Nov 2016

Cochrane Review on ‘Yoga and Low Back Pain’ January 2017

‘Yoga for functional ability, pain and psychosocial outcomes in musculoskeletal conditions: a systematic review and meta-analysis’ Ward L1, Stebbings S, Cherkin D, Baxter GD. Musculoskeletal Care. 2013 Dec; 11(4):203-17.

A systematic review and meta-analysis of yoga for low back pain.’  Cramer H1, Lauche R, Haller H, Dobos G.  Clin J Pain. 2013 May; 29(5):450-60.

Yoga as a Treatment for Low Back Pain: A Review of the Literature.’  Erik J. Groessl Marisa Sklar and Douglas Chang.

Yoga for Chronic Low Back Pain: New Evidence in 2011’. Groessl EJ 2012.  J Yoga Phys Therapy 2:e108. (http://omicsonline.org/2157-7595/2157-7595-2-e108.php

Download list of research papers here.
Research Evidence for Yoga for Chronic lbp Oct2014