Exercises that improve coordination of muscles that support and control the spine offer a strategy to reduce pain and disability caused by lower back pain, finds a new study.
Lower-back pain is one of the most common health conditions worldwide. It can have substantial health and economic costs as people experience disability and general ill health, leading them to need time off work.
“Targeting the strength and coordination of muscles that support the spine through motor control exercise offers an alternative approach to treating lower back pain,” said lead author Bruno Saragiotto from The University of Sydney, Australia.
Motor control exercise is a popular form of exercise that aims to improve coordination of the muscles that control and support the spine.
Patients are initially guided by a therapist to practise normal use of the muscles with simple tasks. As the patient’s skill increases the exercises become more complex and include the functional tasks that the person needs to perform during work and leisure activities.
The study gathered together data from 29 randomised trials involving a total of 2,431 men and women, aged between 22 and 55 years old.
The trials investigated the impact of using motor control exercises as a treatment for lower back pain compared with other forms of exercise or doing nothing.
The researchers found that people who used motor control exercises experienced improvements, especially in pain and disability compared with minimal intervention.
“We can be confident that they are as effective as other types of exercise, so the choice of exercise should take into account factors such as patient or therapist preferences, cost and availability,” Saragiotto added.