Motor control exercises may help reduce lower back pain

A study published online ahead of print in Cochrane Review found motor control exercises can reduce pain and disability caused by lower back pain.

According to a press release about the study, researchers gathered data from 29 randomized trials including 2,431 people between the ages of 22 years and 55 years. The trials analyzed the use of motor control exercises as treatment for lower back pain compared with other forms of exercise or no exercise. Motor control exercises focus on improving the coordination of the muscles that control and support the spine. The exercises initially are guided by a therapist. With time, the exercises become more complex and incorporate functional tasks.

Lead author Bruno T. Saragiotto, MSc, a physiotherapist and PhD student at The George Institute, University of Sydney, Australia, and colleagues found people who used motor control exercises reported decreased pain and disability, especially when compared with people who received minimal intervention. Motor control exercises provided similar results for pain and disability to other types of exercise at intervals between 3 months and 12 months.

“Targeting the strength and coordination of muscles that support the spine through motor control exercise offers an alternative approach to treating lower back pain,” Saragiotto said in a press release. “We can be confident that they are as effective as other types of exercise, so the choice of exercise should take into account factors, such as patient or therapist preferences, cost and availability. At present, we don’t really know how motor control exercise compares with other forms of exercise in the long term. It is important we see more research in this field so that patients can make more informed choices about persisting with treatment.”



Saragiotto BT, et al. Cochrane DB Syst Rev. 2015 [Epub ahead of print Dec. 14].


Disclosure: Saragiotto reports no relevant financial disclosures.

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