As a Sydney CBD & Waterloo chiropractor, I often get asked what is the best form of exercise for back pain & sciatica. The good news is, generally speaking they all work as equally well as each other. One study looked at two types of specific low back stability exercise’s versus general exercise prescribed by a physical therapist and found one was not superior over the other when reducing low back pain & were all equally effective.(Unsgaard-Tøndel 2010) These findings were similar to another article published this year that looked the difference’s in lumbopelvic stabilty (low back stabilty) outcomes when it came to core specific exercises versus general exercise and found that there was no differences between the two when looking at disability & pain in chronic low back pain.(Shamsi 2016) Both these studies found generally speaking no matter what exercise that was performed there was an overall improvement in back pain. In a systematic review,which is where researchers look at all the available research on the the topic concluded that “There is strong evidence stabilisation exercises are not more effective than any other form of active exercise in the long term” (Smith 2014)
The benefits from exercising may be more of a result from general movement & leisure time rather than specific techniques. That’s why I generally recommend people choose the most accessible & affordable option, the one they enjoy doing the most & obviously one that doesn’t aggravate there back pain.
In the early stages when I am treating someone with back pain & sciatica, its not uncommon for exercises/activities such as, weight training, running, high intensity aerobic classes etc. to aggravate there problems. In this case I think swimming is probably this best form of exercise, swimming is relativity cheap, you get a full body resistance work out with minimal jarring, weight loss, increase in in endorphin’s combined with cardiovascular benefits. If there not a particularity strong swimmer or have shoulder issue’s they can always use flipper’s and/or kick boards to great effect.
By combining regular swimming or some other form of low impact exercise, with the myofascial self treatment prescribed in my previous article and the appropriate use of heat I find is an affordable & effective way of managing back pain, the people who do this often recover much quicker, with less treatment and have fewer recurrences of back pain & sciatica.
If you have any question’s or further inquiries contact your Sydney CBD & Waterloo Chiropractor today.
1.) Unsgaard-Tøndel M1, Fladmark AM, Salvesen Ø, Vasseljen O. Motor control exercises, sling exercises, and general exercises for patients with chronic low back pain: a randomized controlled trial with 1-year follow-up.
2.) Shamsi MB, Rezaei M, Zamanlou M, Sadeghi M, Pourahmadi MR. Does core stability exercise improve lumbopelvic stability (through endurance tests) more than general exercise in chronic low back pain? A quasi-randomized controlled trial. Physiother Theory Pract. 2016 Apr;32(3):171-8.