Which specific types of exercises are most effective at treating low back pain?

Holly Lipson

November 1, 2019

By Holly Lipson

(Teeter, 2019)

We have known for some time now that exercise is beneficial for low back pain yet the specifics behind which kind of exercise has remained unclear… until now.

In the past few weeks, a systematic review with meta-analysis (one of the highest levels of evidence out there) examined the effectiveness of specific types of exercise in non-specific low back pain (Owen et al., 2019).  For reference, non-specific low back pain accounts for 90% of low back pain cases.  They included 89 studies which totalled 5578 patients, so quite a large sample size.

The results found that Pilates and motor control exercises were among the most beneficial as well as resistance exercise and aerobic type exercises such as walking and cycling.  And although the quality of current studies out there is quite low and further higher powered studies in this area are needed, it’s a start and confirms individualised Pilates and motor control exercises help by decreasing pain and improving function and mental wellbeing for those who experience non-specific low back pain. This study further supports the message that movement is key for low back pain and an active form of recovery is the best approach.

It must be noted that this study encapsulates a range of people who experience non-specific low back pain of varied degrees of intensity and presentation.  This is where having an individualised program prescribed to you is important as each individual will present differently and thus will respond differently to exercise.

If low back pain is something you or someone you know is suffering from give us a call today and we will be able to help create an effective evidence based management plan to help you on your way to recovery.

(Teeter, 2019)


Owen, P., Miller, C., Mundell, N.Verswijveren, S.,  Tagliaferri, S., Brisby,  H., Bowe, S., & Belavy, D. (2019). Which specific modes of exercise training are most effective for treating low back pain? Network meta-analysis. BJSM. doi:10.1136/bjsports-2019-100886

Teeter (Producer). (2019). Runners: Prevent and reduce lower back pain. Retrieved from https://teeter.com/blog/runners-prevent-reduce-lower-back-pain/