Australian study probes exercise benefits for low back pain
By Canadian Chiropractor staffFeatures Clinical Patient Care
March 31, 2014 — The University of South Australia is set to begin a new study into low back pain, a condition which affects more than 80 million people globally.
The study will investigate whether physical activity – specifically walking at an intensity based on how individuals feel – will assist people suffering from chronic low back pain, where their low back pain symptoms have persisted for longer than three months.
Dr. Katia Ferrar, an Early Career Development Fellow with the School of
Health Sciences at the University of South Australia, said the individual and community cost of chronic low
back pain is staggering.
"The lifetime prevalence of lower back
pain in Australia is as high as 80 per cent – and 10 to 20 per cent of
those sufferers go on to experience chronic lower back pain," she said.
"In addition to the pain, patients typically suffer various levels of
physical disability and psychological distress. The pain is likely to
disrupt their daily routine and reduce their capacity to participate in
recreational activities. They may be unable to work and may be
Ferrar, who worked as a physiotherapist before
completing her PhD in the University’s Health and Use of Time Group,
said health professional guidelines recommend physical activity as a
management tool for chronic low back pain.
However, adults with
chronic low back pain present with unique barriers to physical activity
which need to be overcome to facilitate long-term physical activity
behaviour change, she said.
Ferrar will examine if walking,
self-regulated by how they are feeling, may provide an effective
approach to increasing physical activity in people with chronic low back
"Research has demonstrated that if an exercise experience
is pleasurable, people will be more likely to participate in it in the
future," she said.
"A key distinction to this intervention is
that it’s based on how people feel. Basically if something feels better
and people feel more in control, then they might do it more or make it a
Study participants will include adults, 35 to 55
years old, who have suffered low back pain for longer than three months
and are not sufficiently physically active. The study will involve an
eight-week home-based walking trial. One group will receive some
guidance regarding self-pacing their walking intensity and the other
group will be encouraged to walk with no specific guidance on how to
regulate their walking intensity.
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