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Australian study probes exercise benefits for low back pain

backpain.jpgMarch 31, 2014 — The University of South Australia is set to begin a new study into low back pain, a condition which affects more than 80 million people globally.

The study will investigate whether physical activity – specifically walking at an intensity based on how individuals feel – will assist people suffering from chronic low back pain, where their low back pain symptoms have persisted for longer than three months.


March 31, 2014
By Massage Therapy Canada staff

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Dr. Katia
Ferrar, an Early Career Development Fellow with the School of Health
Sciences at the University of South Australia, said the individual and
community cost of chronic low back pain is staggering.

"The
lifetime prevalence of lower back pain in Australia is as high as 80 per
cent – and 10 to 20 per cent of those sufferers go on to experience
chronic lower back pain," she said. "In addition to the pain, patients
typically suffer various levels of physical disability and psychological
distress. The pain is likely to disrupt their daily routine and reduce
their capacity to participate in recreational activities. They may be
unable to work and may be depressed."

Ferrar, who worked as a
physiotherapist before completing her PhD in the University’s Health and
Use of Time Group, said health professional guidelines recommend
physical activity as a management tool for chronic low back pain.

However,
adults with chronic low back pain present with unique barriers to
physical activity which need to be overcome to facilitate long-term
physical activity behaviour change, she said.

Ferrar will examine
if walking, self-regulated by how they are feeling, may provide an
effective approach to increasing physical activity in people with
chronic low back pain.

"Research has demonstrated that if an
exercise experience is pleasurable, people will be more likely to
participate in it in the future," she said.

"A key distinction to
this intervention is that it’s based on how people feel. Basically if
something feels better and people feel more in control, then they might
do it more or make it a regular habit."

Study participants will
include adults, 35 to 55 years old, who have suffered low back pain for
longer than three months and are not sufficiently physically active. The
study will involve an eight-week home-based walking trial. One group
will receive some guidance regarding self-pacing their walking intensity
and the other group will be encouraged to walk with no specific
guidance on how to regulate their walking intensity.


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