Physical Therapy vs. Yoga for Lower Back Pain

Physical Therapy vs. Yoga for Lower Back Pain

Physical therapy is recommended by doctors to complete specific treatment plans. For lower back pain, it is an important part of the recovery process, even when surgery, potentially from a neurosurgeon like Dr Timothy Steel, isn’t involved. Options are always welcome, so the competition between physical therapy and yoga remains an intense debate.


Yoga has been around just as long as Physical therapy. The differences are not always visible, so you first have to understand the history of yoga. Its origins concentrated on the mental, spiritual, and physical disciplines derived from the teachings of ancient India. As its popularity grew, the methods changed based on which part of the world practiced yoga. In some ways, yoga influenced modern physical therapy. One of the biggest misconceptions about yoga is that it is only meant for weight loss. Dieting is far removed from the true intention of yoga. But it is worth mentioning that a combination of daily yoga and healthy eating will aid an individual in losing weight.

Physical Therapy

Physiotherapy is an important part of health awareness and has aided millions in their treatment program. Unlike yoga, physical therapy is fully backed as one of the allied health professions. With the help of physical therapy, individuals and groups can restore their health, sometimes beyond its initial state. The educational criteria for physiotherapy differ based on the location, but competition is always fierce. Like any medical profession, the changing landscape behind science requires a sharp mind and a willingness for continued learning. There is no such thing as mastering physical therapy since you are always learning. This is the biggest difference between yoga and physiotherapy, and the main reason why doctors lean more towards the latter.

The Current Situation

Currently, yoga is popular as a light exercise alternative and dieting addition. It has earned a lot of attention as a great way for limited mobility individuals to get back in shape. Since physical therapy isn’t always covered by insurance, yoga has also gained an unintentional reputation boost due to money issues. As health costs rise and fall, individuals with limited or no insurance are forced to make tough decisions. With lower back pain issues, you run the risk of being out of commission for several months. With no way to replace job income and expensive health insurance, lower back pain sufferers will sometime turn to yoga to ease the pain. Since there isn’t a treatment plan attached to yoga-like physical therapy, the results will always be mixed.


When lower back pain is the focus, then physical limitations are a huge concern. Physiotherapy understands these limitations and stays within the guidelines of the original treatment. This is a small, but very important part of ensuring that there is no further injury to your lower back. With yoga, following a low activity discipline can still interfere with your treatment plan. That includes introducing movements that cause stress to the lower back or surrounding areas. If you’re not careful, yoga can reverse the healing of a treatment plan and accelerate damage. The freedom of yoga is its greatest strength, but also its most severe drawback.

Physical Therapy Myths

When physical therapy is too expensive, yoga is the alternative that costs nothing. Yup, you must know the detail about Physical Therapy vs. Yoga for Lower Back Pain. Yoga is also something that can be done anywhere and within your own time frame. If your insurance covers physical therapy, that also means it will more than likely cover all of the equipment. As far as cost goes for both, stay with what you can afford. Having a better lower back and no money will lead to you breaking your back again to get more money.

But there are still myths attached to physiotherapy about cost and time, so let’s tackle that here. Physical therapy can be expensive without insurance, but insurance is not the only option. There are negotiable payment plans that are more than acceptable for the average person. As for time, physical therapy is done in dedicated spaces. But the appointments are flexible, and you are sent home with activities to hasten the recovery process. 

Lower Back Pain

Lower back pain is a common condition that occurs from an injury to the tendons of muscles in the back. The injury itself doesn’t have to be serious, as even a mild strange can cause noticeable issues in pain or movement. When rest doesn’t help heal the injury, physical therapy, surgery or medication become the recommended treatment options. For mild to serious lower back pain, physical therapy is in addition to the other treatment methods. In this case, physiotherapy becomes the final phase of a full treatment plan.


There should be no delay in dealing with lower back pain since it can be attached to a much larger health issue. So the importance of understanding Physical Therapy vs. Yoga for Lower Back Pain. An individual with constant lower back pain may also be struggling with obesity issues. Another individual with the same pain may have unresolved anxiety or depression. A third person in this same group could be suffering from osteoarthritis. Telling any of these three people to do yoga to overcome the back pain presents its own risks since it doesn’t deal with the root cause. This is why diagnosis then treatment is the correct order, even when lower back pain is the most recognizable symptom.

Ignoring the risks surrounding lower back pain can lead to unexpected health problems, up to and including death. That’s not a morbid outlook when you consider the millions that ignore the pain in the hopes it will ‘go away on its own. This is exactly how treatable lower back pain becomes chronic, and in some cases crippling to the sufferer. A lot of the confusion is also highlighted by the randomness of the pain. One day your lower back is fine, and then the next day the pain comes and goes.

A Winner

Let us close by saying that there are some differences between Physical Therapy vs. Yoga for Lower Back Pain. There is a reason physical therapy is recommended by a lot of professionals. It has proven results and works best for all age groups. Yoga is great in some circumstances, but physical therapy is the answer if you’re serious about resolving back pain.

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About the Author: Kabbyik

Kabbyik Mitra, a voracious reader and health writer. He is a health & lifestyle journalist. Kabbyik is a yoga enthusiast practicing yoga for last 7-year. He is a certified yoga therapist, a science writer, communicator and journalist. He has been practicing yoga and training people to live a healthy and happy life. Get in touch with him via email: for any yoga related queries.

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