Background and purpose: The prevalence of chronic low back pain (CLBP) is higher in older than in younger adults and is associated with poor postural control and falls. The objective of this study was to compare the postural control of younger and older subjects with and without CLBP during a one-leg stance.
Methods: Twenty subjects with and 20 subjects without nonspecific CLBP participated in the study. Each group contained 10 younger (50% males; mean age: 31 years) and 10 older adults (50% males; mean age 71 years). The subjects performed three 30-s trials of a one-leg stance on a force platform. Balance parameters were computed to quantify postural control, including center of pressure (COP) area, mean velocity, and mean frequency in the anteroposterior and mediolateral directions.
Results: Participants with CLBP presented significantly poorer balance (P < 0.05) than participants without CLBP. The effect size was large for younger adults (d = 1.44) and small for older adults (d = 0.40). Older adults with CLBP presented poorer balance than younger adults with CLBP (large effect size, d = 1.24).
Conclusions: The findings indicate that CLBP affects the balance of both younger and older adults, and that the age-related changes also affect balance and modify the magnitude of CLBP effects on balance.
Keywords: Aging; Posture; Rehabilitation; Spine, biomechanics.