Podcast 49 - core stability exercises and non specific low back pain Google+



Podcast #49 – Core Stability and Low Back Pain

core stability and low back painThe Yoga and Movement Research Series

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.

Jenn Pilotti is a personal trainer and contributor to the Yoga and Movement Research Project (YAMResearch.com)

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.

Links and Mentions:

Jenn Pilotti: www.bewellpt.com

Cor-Kinetic article: What does the evidence tell us is the best exercise for back pain?

Hodges 1996 study about the TVA

Stuart McGill and intra-bdominal pressure in order to maintain structure of the spine

YAMResearch.com Sign up for reviews about yoga and movement research

Do you enjoy the podcast? If so, please leave a short review here. Your feedback matters to me and helps the podcast grow!

Subscribe to Yoga & Beyond on iTunes
non iTunes RSS Feed

, , , , , ,

4 Responses to Podcast #49 – Core Stability and Low Back Pain

  1. bob gazso November 26, 2016 at 9:16 AM #

    Great review here. I just wanted to add this. I have been working with someone who 8 months ago could not get off the floor due to extreme back pain. By the time I was able to get there he had been on the floor for several hours and after a fair amount of work we got him up. He has gradually been getting better and has even started working out again but is conservative with his exercise. For him when his pain flairs up we also find that the muscle testing will show inhibited TVA. Once we get the TVA back on line the discomfort goes away. It is clear that for this individual that TVA is a primary contributor to his back pain. My experience is that often TVA is a player in back pain however this is only one of many possible contributing factors.

    • admin November 29, 2016 at 10:34 PM #

      thanks for your input Robert! I love hearing about your personal experience.

  2. chris March 13, 2017 at 9:31 PM #

    Very nice discussion. I enjoy listening to people talk about exercise in a sensible way. One confusing point is that in your bullet points you put Pilates into the general exercise category. I would claim that Pilates is the archetypal core stabilization system.

    • admin March 14, 2017 at 11:45 AM #

      Hi Chris, glad you liked this episode. Sometimes it’s hard to separate these methods and exercises because there’s some overlap. Pilates may be considered an exercise program that strengthens the core; however, for the parameters of this study, it’s not considered a Core Stability Exercise (CSE). CSEs that would be used in a physical therapy/rehab setting were isolated exercises that worked the deep muscles of the spine (TVA and multifidus), were integrated into exercise, and then progressed into functional activity.

Leave a Reply

Powered by WordPress. Designed by WooThemes