What’s This Research About?

How many times have you told someone that in order to have a strong back they need to strengthen the core? I have many times. Maybe you even thought that about your own back. It sounds logical and makes sense, but the research doesn’t support this idea. Core stability exercises are used in physical therapy offices and for rehabilitation of NSLBP but the evidence does not support their efficacy. It’s not that they’re bad, they’re just not better than other forms of exercise or movement.

This review looks at 29 studies (from 5 databases) that look at the effect of core stability exercises and alternative treatments on NSLBP pain and disability. The meta-analysis from all of these studies compares the efficacy of core stabilization exercise to other types of exercise such as walking and general exercise.  

This meta review of 29 studies asks two questions: 1) Are core stability exercises effective? And 2) Are they as effective as other forms of exercise?

Core Stability Exercise

TITLE: An update of stabilisation exercises for low back pain: a systematic review with meta-analysis


PUBLICATION: BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders

DATE: December 2014

AUTHORS : Benjamin E Smith, Chris Littlewood, and Stephen May

Non-specific Low Back Pain (NSLBP): This is lower back pain that does not have a pathology. It does not have a diagnosis. For the  purposes of this study NSLBP is defined as pain or stiffness between the bottom ribs and buttock crease, with or without leg pain.

NSLBP is widespread, costs money due to missed workdays and rehabilitation. 80% of the population experiences LBP. 90% of acute episodes recover within 6 weeks (this is encouraging).  62% of those who have had NSLBP will develop chronic symptoms (not so encouraging). UK health services spend more than 1 billion pounds on related costs. The costs are similar in other developed countries. NSLBP Ccsts UK employers 624 million pounds a year and 119 million workdays were missed because of it.

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