Flexible care

THERE are many sceptics who still deride the benefits of alternative health methods and medicine.

However, Ryan Giggs, the record-breaking Manchester United footballer, attributes his continuing success to yoga – and the suppleness that this provides him for high-intensity Premier League games.

Likewise Tottenham Hotspur whose manager Harry Redknapp, a noted traditionalist, now believes yoga is helping to rejuvenate his players.

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Yet the benefits extend far beyond the football pitch. A new study, led by the University of York in conjunction with Arthritis UK, reveals that yoga can provide more effective treatment for chronic lower back pain than more conventional methods.

This is not altogether surprising, given increasing levels of obesity and how the use of painkillers can mask ailments rather than cure them. And, given that an ageing society is already placing the National Health Service under extreme financial pressure, the use of yoga – and a self-management programme for back sufferers – could yield significant benefits.