In a randomized prevention trial, frequent exercise and abdominal bracing were effective in alleviating recurring lower back pain, and frequency was more important than the exercise type, duration or intensity.
Researchers included 600 patients with lower back pain (LBP) to compare the long-term effects of strengthening vs. flexibility exercises to alleviate LBP. The study also analyzed the effect of abdominal bracing combined with exercising for the treatment of LBP. Patients were randomly assigned to one of four exercise groups: strengthening, flexibility, strengthening plus abdominal bracing and flexibility plus abdominal bracing.
Frequency, intensity and duration of pain, and frequency, intensity and duration of exercises were recorded in each patient at the start of the study and at the end of 10 consecutive years. All of the patient groups showed significant improvement in pain outcomes at the 2-year mark (P < .05) but gradually worsened thereafter.
At the end of 10 years, pain frequency was 1.68 times lower and pain duration was 1.55 times shorter in the bracing groups vs. the non-bracing groups. Exercise frequency was 0.68 times higher in the bracing groups compared with the non-bracing groups; however, no correlations were found between pain outcomes and exercise duration or intensity, according to the researchers.