This Evidence Summary is based on the following systematic review:
Searle A, Spink M, Ho A, et al. Exercise interventions for the treatment of chronic low back pain: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. Clin Rehabil. 2015 Dec;29(12):1155-67. doi: 10.1177/0269215515570379. Epub 2015 Feb 13. PubMed
In people with chronic low back pain, which types of exercise are best for reducing pain?
Low back pain is very common and may be due to individual characteristics (e.g., injury), psychological/sociological factors (e.g., stress), or work-related factors (e.g., heavy lifting). However, the cause of low back pain for an individual is often unknown.
Treatment of low back pain is difficult and often not very effective.
The researchers did a systematic review based on studies available up to October 2014.
They found 45 randomized controlled trials with 4,462 people.
The key features of the studies were:
Compared with control, low back pain was improved by:
Compared with control, low back pain was not improved by aerobic "cardio" exercise.
In people with chronic low back pain, exercise programs that focus on coordination/stabilization or strength/resistance can improve low back pain.
Exercise for chronic low back pain
Number of trials (and people)
Change in pain*
*Based on standard mean differences (SMD); very small = less than 0.2 SMD, small = 0.2 to 0.49 SMD, medium = 0.5 to 0.79 SMD, large = 0.8 or more SMD.
This Evidence Summary was originally prepared for the McMaster Optimal Aging Portal.
Published: Friday, July 28, 2017