Exercise can help prevent recurrent episodes of low back pain, especially when it’s combined with education about back care, a systematic review in JAMA Internal Medicine has confirmed.
Researchers analyzed data from 21 clinical trials involving 30,850 participants. The reduction in risk (about 40 percent) was fairly consistent across the studies included. The types of exercise varied—from core training and stretching to spinal range-of-motion exercises and aerobic conditioning. Benefits beyond a year were less certain, probably because people didn’t stick to their exercise regimens.
“If a medication or injection were available that reduced low back pain recurrence by such an amount, we would be reading the marketing materials in our journals and viewing them on television,” the accompanying commentary noted. For other interventions, such as orthotic insoles and back belts, the researchers found little or no evidence of benefit.
Also see Exercise Away Your Back Pain.