Effects of a concurrent exercise training program on low back and sciatic pain and pain disability in late pregnancy

Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2023 Mar 17. doi: 10.1111/sms.14353. Online ahead of print.


Objective: The aim of the present study was to explore the influence of a concurrent exercise (aerobic + resistance) training program, from the 17th gestational week (g.w.) until birth on low back and sciatic pain, and pain disability. A total of 93 pregnant women divided into exercise (n = 49) and control (n = 44) groups followed a 60-min, 3 days/week, concurrent exercise training.

Methods: Low back and sciatic pain were measured with a Visual Analogic Scale (VAS). The disability resulting from pain was assessed with the Oswestry Disability Index (ODI). Measures were performed at the 16th and 34th g.w.

Results: The exercise group increased 21.9 mm less the VAS low back (between-group differences (B): 95% CI: -33.6 to -10.2; p < 0.001) and 12.9 mm less the VAS sciatica score (between-group differences: 95% CI (B): -21.8 to -4.0; p = 0.005) than the control group. Regarding the ODI questionnaire, the exercise group increased 0.7, 0.5, and 0.7 less than the control group in pain while sleeping (between-group differences (B): 95% CI: -1.4 to -0.01; p = 0.025), pain while lifting weight (between-group differences (B): 95% CI: -0.9 to -0.01; p = 0.016), and limitations of the social life due to pain (between-group differences(B): 95% CI: -1.3 to -0.06; p = 0.032). Furthermore, the exercise group suffered 6.9% less pain than the control group in the ODI total score (between-group differences (B): 95% CI: -13.9 to 0.053; p = 0.052).

Conclusion: This concurrent exercise training program adapted to pregnant women improved pain compared to controls.

Keywords: back pain; disability; gestation; sciatic pain; visual analogic scale.