Exercises focused on improving motor skills may work as well for easing lower back pain as other types of physical activity, a recent research review suggests.
Based on data from 29 previously conducted trials involving a total of 2,431 adults aged 22 to 55 years, the study team also found that people who exercised generally experienced more improvements in pain and disability than those who didn’t.
“The choice of exercise should be based on patient or therapist preferences and costs, as the current evidence suggests that there is no difference among the types of exercises,” said lead study author Bruno Saragiotto of the George Institute for Global Health at Sydney Medical School in Australia. Lower back pain is one of the leading causes of disability and doctor visits for adults worldwide, and the condition also has a significant economic impact in lost wages and productivity.
While the findings add to a growing body of evidence for the importance of physical activity to treat lower back pain, more research is still needed to determine which workout routines might be best suited to specific patients or injuries, Saragiotto and colleagues conclude in the journal Cochrane Library. Motor control exercise focuses on the activation of the deep trunk muscles and targets restoration of control and coordination of these muscles, which support the spine.
Workouts can vary, but patients might start off working on balance and flexibility and then progress to more complex exercises that involve lifting, pushing, pulling and rotating the body.