Low back pain is such a common problem that it affects 70-80% of the population at some time in their life (1 ). We differentiate between two types of lower back pain based on the duration of symptoms: acute lower back pain and chronic low back pain. The first lasts less than 4 weeks. The second lasts beyond 3 months. Chronic low back pain is, therefore, one of the most disabling diseases and causes the most sick leave.
Being such a common pathology, it is very necessary to know what is best for its treatment. And, according to the vast majority of studies, the best for treating low back pain is movement and exercise .
But with the myriad of exercises available to us today, a question arises: what is the best exercise for treating low back pain?
Today we are going to analyse four of the many types of exercises to find out which is the most indicated, according to the available scientific studies (2):
Pilates: the Pilates method is one of the best known in gyms in the world and owes its name to its creator Joseph Pilates. It brings together exercises from different disciplines such as yoga and gymnastics. The goals are muscle strengthening, improved flexibility, and relaxation.
This method has been found to be beneficial for the treatment of low back pain in most studies (2).
Yoga: Yoga is a physical and mental discipline originally from India. It is associated with meditation and relaxation.
In a review of studies on this method, it was concluded that it was a good tool for treating chronic low back pain, and that it improved the chances of success in treating low back pain.
Walking: going for a walk is probably one of the types of exercise that all or almost all of us have more at hand. That is why its effectiveness for low back pain has also been studied, and most studies indicate that it does have benefits for pain, both in the short and medium term.
Strength exercise / weights: in a very important review of studies, the effectiveness of cardiorespiratory exercise (running, cycling, swimming ...) was compared with resistance exercise (weights, squats, push-ups ...), and a benefit was shown higher of these seconds compared to the first.
In any of these exercises, it is very important to bear in mind that the exercise must be progressive and adapted by health personnel. This way we will avoid a greater risk of pain and a better recovery.
In summary and to conclude: what is the best exercise for lower back pain?
The best exercise for low back pain is ... the one you do.
There is no use doing an exercise if you don't like it, because you are not going to practice it for a long time and it is not going to help you disconnect from daily life. So, choose the one you like the most and ... GET MOVING!
1 Searle, A., Spink, M., Ho, A., & Chuter, V. (2015). Exercise interventions for the treatment of chronic low back pain: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Clinical Rehabilitation, 29 (12), 1155–1167.doi: 10.1177 / 02692155155703792 Shipton, EA (2018). Physical Therapy Approaches in the Treatment of Low Back Pain. Pain and Therapy. doi: 10.1007 / s40122-018-0105-x