Sensory-motor control of the lower back: implications for rehabilitation

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2001 Nov;33(11):1889-98. doi: 10.1097/00005768-200111000-00014.


Although low back pain (LBP) is a widespread and disabling health problem, there is a lack of evidence based medicine with respect to its treatment and rehabilitation. A major reason for this is the poor understanding of the underlying mechanisms of the LBP syndromes. In an attempt to fill this gap, the present review article provides an overview of the sensory-motor control aspects of trunk stabilization and postural control of the trunk, and how they may relate to the evolution of LBP. In particular, the anatomy and physiology of the sensory-motor control mechanisms of the trunk muscles that contribute to general and segmental stability of the lumbar spine will be elucidated. Furthermore, a brief overview of current theories of postural control will be provided with respect to spinal stabilization. Finally, a concept of the pathophysiological changes within the sensory-motor control mechanisms of the lumbar spine in the presence of muscle injury and pain will be presented. The impact of pain and muscle injury on the muscular support for the lumbar motion segment will be discussed along with the deficits in neuromuscular control in LBP patients with decreased segmental lumbar stability.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Abdominal Muscles / physiology
  • Back Injuries / physiopathology
  • Back Injuries / rehabilitation
  • Diaphragm / physiology
  • Exercise Therapy / methods
  • Humans
  • Low Back Pain / physiopathology*
  • Low Back Pain / rehabilitation*
  • Lumbosacral Region / anatomy & histology*
  • Lumbosacral Region / physiology*
  • Muscle Contraction / physiology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / pathology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology
  • Posture / physiology*
  • Spine / innervation
  • Spine / physiology