It was a spur-of-the-moment mistake and one that nearly cost Professor John Aplin his life. While out hill-walking in the Peak District in 1996, his two young sons Daniel, then 11, and Matthew, six, got stuck on rocks above a ravine and called for help.
In a panic, John attempted to climb a cliff to reach them, only to fall 30ft on to rocks. He suffered fractures to three vertebrae, a punctured lung, a broken wrist, several broken ribs, fingers and toes, and doctors feared he might never walk again. Yet despite his horrific injuries John was out of hospital in six weeks and back at work full-time within three months.
Twelve years on and he is as fit as ever. Last year he went climbing in the Dolomites in Italy as well as running in the Great Manchester 10km Run, his first long-distance competitive race.
John, a 56-year-old professor of reproductive biomedicine at Manchester University, credits his swift recovery to a special yoga programme he devised himself and now he is hopeful his experience could soon be helping others.
The first large-scale study of yoga as a treatment for back pain was completed last December. Before his accident John was a yoga enthusiast and took a course to enable him to run classes part-time. Those running the new trial, funded by the Arthritis Research Campaign (ARC), heard about his experiences and asked him to help lead the study. The final results will not be published until 2010.
However, if the positive early indications are right, GPs could soon be prescribing yoga classes rather than painkillers.