Physical exercise and low back pain

Scand J Med Sci Sports. 1996 Apr;6(2):63-72. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0838.1996.tb00073.x.


Health care providers often prescribe exercises as treatment for nonspecific low back pain. However, the effectiveness of this treatment is poorly documented in the literature. While the evidence suggests that exercise in general is beneficial, there is a lack of knowledge about the types, frequency and duration of exercises that should be prescribed and at what stage of injury they are most helpful. In addition, few studies have dealt with exercise treatment alone rather than in combination with other treatments, making it hard to decipher the unique contribution of exercise. Inadequate study designs also make conclusions difficult. Conversely, the literature clearly shows that inactivity has detrimental effects (i.e. delayed return to normal activity, and negative physiological and psychological effects) for low back pain patients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Exercise Therapy*
  • Humans
  • Low Back Pain / physiopathology
  • Low Back Pain / prevention & control
  • Low Back Pain / rehabilitation*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiopathology
  • Recurrence
  • Treatment Outcome