13 January 2016

Forget back belts and insoles – the best way to prevent lower back pain is a combination of exercise and education.

That’s the conclusion of Australian researchers who analysed 21 trials involving more than 30,000 patients.

They found moderate-quality evidence that a combination of exercise and education reduces the risk of a lower back pain episode by 45%.

But they also found the effect size tends to diminish after the one-year mark, suggesting the importance of long-term behavioural change.

Most trials had participants do 2–3 exercise sessions per week at a clinic in addition to at-home exercises, for as little as 8 weeks to as many as 18 months.

They found exercise alone may reduce the risk of a lower back pain episode by about a third, but that the evidence was of low quality.

There was no evidence to support education alone or the use of insoles or back belts.

Last Reviewed: 13/01/2016

Reproduced with kind permission from Medical Observer.


Prevention of low back pain. JAMA Internal Medicine, online.