Resting it will make it worse, warn scientists
Putting your feet up when you are suffering from chronic backache is the worst approach to take, according to scientists who say exercise is the key to pain relief.
A Canadian study has found that people with severe lumbar pain had a better quality of life if they did some sort of physical activity several days a week.
The researchers studied 240 men and women with long-term lower-back problems and found those that exercised four days a week suffered 28% less pain and 36% less disability. Those who exercised only two or three days a week did not show the same level of pain reduction.
‘While it could be assumed that someone with back pain should not be exercising frequently, our findings show that working with weights four days a week provides the greatest amount of pain relief and quality of life,’ said lead researcher Professor Robert Kell, an assistant professor of exercise physiology at University of Alberta.
Three in four people suffer from varying bouts of back pain, which experts say is increasingly due to modern-day sedentary lifestyles.
Prof Kell presented his findings at the American College of Sports Medicine conference in Seattle, Washington.
In the study, groups of 60 men and women with chronically sore lower backs each exercised with weights in two, three or four-day weekly programmes. Some of the volunteers did no exercise at all. Their progress was measured over 16 weeks.
The level of pain decreased by 28% in programmes that included exercise four days a week, by 18% three days a week and by 14% two days a week. The quality of life, defined as general physical and mental wellbeing, rose by 28%, 22% and 16% respectively.