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Targeting exercises to muscles that support and control the spine offers another strategy to reduce pain and disability caused by lower back pain a new Cochrane Review shows that.

Lower back pain is one of the most common health conditions worldwide. With people needing time of work it can have substantial economic and health costs as people experience general ill health.

Aiming to improve coordination of the muscles that control and support the spine motor control exercise is a popular form of exercise. A therapist initially guides patients to practice normal use of the muscles with simple tasks. The exercises become more complex, as the patients skill increases, and include functional tasks that the patient are required to do during work and/or leisure. 

 Published in the Cochrane Library the new study gathered together data from 29 randomised trials involving a total of 2,431 men and women, aged between 22 and 55 years old. The trials investigated the impact of using motor control exercises as a treatment for lower back pain compared with other forms of exercise or doing nothing. 

It was found by the Cochrane authors that people who used motor controlled exercises  experienced improvements, especially in pain and disability compared with minimal intervention. When compared with other types of exercise at intervals between 3 and 12 months motor control exercise provided similar results for pain and disability. 

 Lead author, from The George Institute, University of Sydney, Australia, Physiotherapist Bruno Saragiotto said, ‘Targeting the strength and coordination of muscles that support the spine through motor control exercise offers an alternative approach to treating lower back pain. We can be confident that they are as effective as other types of exercise, so the choice of exercise should take into account factors such as patient or therapist preferences, cost and availability. At present, we don’t really know how motor control exercise compares with other forms of exercise in the long term. It’s important we see more research in this field so that patients can make more informed choices about persisting with treatment.’

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