Research shows exercise works well for patients with back pain. The question is: what kind of exercise is best? So far there's little proof that one type of exercise is better than another. This study compares two kinds of exercise for patients with nonspecific back pain.
In this study the first group followed a training program of general exercises. The second group did general exercises plus trunk muscle stabilization (core) exercises. Both groups did the exercise program twice a week for eight weeks. Everyone also read a book on back care.
Results were measured in terms of reduced pain and improved function. Both groups got better after exercise. The general exercise group improved more right away. After three months the results were equal.
The authors concluded the stabilization exercises don't give an added benefit to some low back pain patients. If there are no signs and symptoms of spinal instability, there's no need to do stability exercises. A program of safe, general exercises may be all that's
needed for patients with recurrent, nonspecific low back pain.
G. A. Koumantakis, et al. Trunk Muscle Stabilization Training Plus General Exercise Versus General Exercise Only: Randomized Controlled Trial of Patients with Recurrent Low Back Pain. In Physiotherapy. March 2005. Vol. 85. No. 3. Pp. 209-225.