Aerobic Exercise and Low Back Pain 

Research Update:
By Dr. David I. Graber

Aerobic Exercise and Low Back Pain 

 

Three fascinating studies came out this month on the effects of aerobic exercise on patients with low back pain. Here they are: 
 

The effectiveness of different aerobic exercises to improve pain intensity and disability in chronic low back pain patients: a systematic review

This review of 17 studies found that: 

1.      Various types of aerobic exercise produce similar benefits. 

2.      Aerobic exercise combined with other interventions, such as exercises for stabilization, flexibility, or low back rehabilitation, was more effective than aerobic exercise alone. 

3.      Aerobic exercise with higher frequency (≥ 5 days/week) and longer duration (≥ 12 weeks) were effective to gain clinically significant (≥ 30%) improvements.  

4.      Environment and using pedometer did not seem to influence the outcomes. 
 

Sany SA, Mitsi M, Tanjim T and Rahman M. The effectiveness of different aerobic exercises to improve pain intensity and disability in chronic low back pain patients: a systematic review [version 1; peer review: 1 approved with reservations]. F1000Research 2022, 11:136 (https://doi.org/10.12688/f1000research.75440.1

Does aerobic exercise affect pain sensitisation in individuals with musculoskeletal pain? A systematic review  

 A review of 11 studies showed that:  

Good evidence that aerobic exercise reduces pain sensitization in individuals with musculoskeletal pain.   

In these studies, the aerobic exercise involved walking or cycling, performed at a submaximal intensity but with incremental increases, for a 4-60 minute duration. For up to 12 weeks, it can produce a median percentage improvement of 10.6% in pain sensitization. 

Tan, L., Cicuttini, F.M., Fairley, J. et al. Does aerobic exercise effect pain sensitisation in individuals with musculoskeletal pain? A systematic review. BMC Musculoskelet Disord 23, 113 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12891-022-05047-9

 

Exercise may impact on lumbar vertebrae marrow adipose tissue: Randomised controlled trial 

This trial compared two groups of 20 patients each. One performed progressive upright aerobic and resistance exercises targeting major muscle groups (Exercise). The control group of patients performed non-weightbearing motor control training and manual therapy. The control group did not demonstrate any changes in the bone marrow adipose tissue, but the exercise group did. The highlights of this study were: 

1.      Cross-sectional data suggest bone marrow adipose tissue may respond to exercise. 

2.      Marrow adipose tissue modulates bone homeostasis and hemopoiesis. 

3.      Exercise may modulate marrow adipose tissue in adults with chronic low back pain. 

4.      Exercise appears to modulate marrow adipose tissue more prominently in males. 

Belavy DL, Miller CT, Owen PJ, Rantalainen T, Connell D, Hahne AJ, Ford JJ, Trudel G. Exercise may impact on lumbar vertebrae marrow adipose tissue: Randomised controlled trial. Bone. 2022 Jan 24;157:116338. doi: 10.1016/j.bone.2022.116338. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 35085839.
 

Published in the ANJC Back Channel, 2/16/2022

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