Core Stability and Low Back Pain
Jenn Pilotti and I discuss a thorough review of 29 studies that answers this question: Are core stability exercises the best for back pain? The meta review was conducted in 2014 and is entitled, “An update of stabilization exercises for low back pain: a systematic review with meta-analysis.” The studies compare core stabilization techniques (side plank, plank and bird dog) to other forms of exercise such as low intensity aerobics, pilates, walking, running in place, and stretches.
It might be a common sense conclusion that core strengthening is the best for back pain, but the research does not support this. In fact, the research tells us that core work is no more or less effective than any other kind of exercise.
Original Study: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4295260/
- Across literature the statistic is that 80% of the population will experience Low Back Pain.
- This meta review gathered data from 29 studies with a cumulative sample size of over 2k people with non-specific low back pain from a number of countries in different movement and rehab environments.
- The conclusion of the study was that stabilization exercises are not more effective than any other forms of exercise in the long term for people who have low back pain without pathologies.
- What kinds of movements were compared to stability training? Motor control, general exercise, pilates, stretches, light aerobics.
- There were some instances in the studies where core stability did help in the short term which begs the question if we can help someone in the short term then why wouldn’t we.
- There is a need to continue researching what works for people and what doesn’t. Because pain is multifaceted. We need to figure out the best way to help a broad number of people and it’s not going to be the same for everyone.
- This review didn’t include research about the effect of yoga on low back pain. Jenn has read a fair amount about it and it’s one of those things where it seems to be no more or less effective than other forms of exercise.
- Core stability work is no more effective in the long term than other forms of exercise but that does not mean we need to throw it out. We can still use it.
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