Exercise and Low back pain

Low back pain is the leading cause of disability worldwide and is experienced by 80% adults at least once in their life.  About 95% of low back pain is termed non-specific low back pain as no specific cause can be identified (e.g. vertebral fracture, malignancy, infection), and is referred.

Around 70% of people experience intermittent symptoms for longer than 6 months following and onset of back pain, with around 30% experience a flare-up in the following 12 months.   This is referred to as the natural history of back pain and can be reassuring for people experiencing anxiety about their persisting pain (its normal!).  

The current treatment guidelines recommend helping patients understand and make sense of their pain and to develop active pain coping and self-management strategies to decrease overall pain and disability.  

Exercise is a primary treatment for persisting low back pain. There is no optimal exercise modality and walking, weight training, yoga, Tai Chi and Pilates have all been shown to be beneficial when patient preference is considered.


Hartvigsen J , Hancock MJ , Kongsted A , et al . What low back pain is and why we need to pay attention. Lancet 2018