33 Possible Ways Exercise Relieves Chronic Low Back Pain

Writer: CHRISTOPHER BERGLAND | Outlet: Psychology Today

Original Post: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-athletes-way/202012/33-possible-ways-exercise-relieves-chronic-low-back-pain


"Exercise is one non-pharmacological intervention commonly used to manage CLBP. Exercise also provides modest improvements in pain and function for people with CLBP and is cost-effective. Consequently, exercise is recommended for CLBP by most clinical guidelines, with no clear recommendation for one type of exercise over another," the authors explain. 

"This broad recommendation probably reflects uncertainty about the mechanism(s) through which exercise exerts positive effects on pain and function," they add.
"[We] were surprised to find there was no clear agreement between scientists about why they think exercise works for CLBP," Jones stated in the news release. "Therefore, despite decades of research in the area and more than 100 studies we analyzed in our review, we still do not have a good idea of why exercise might be effective for CLBP."

That being said, the researchers did identify 33 unique mechanisms—grouped into five themes (neuromuscular, psychosocial, neurophysiological, cardiometabolic, tissue healing)—that, taken together, lay out a wide range of factors that may work in various combinations to alleviate low back pain via exercise.

Here's a summary (Table 2) of 33 ways exercise may work for low back pain ranked in descending order (based on how many times each mechanism was proposed) in the 110 studies analyzed for this review:

  1. Muscle strength
  2. Motor control
  3. Muscle endurance
  4. Fear-avoidance
  5. Pain self-efficacy
  6. Mood
  7. Flexibility
  8. Endorphins
  9. Kinesiophobia
  10. Aerobic fitness
  11. Stabilization
  12. Pain tolerance
  13. Disability perception
  14. Mastery
  15. Biomechanics