In a study from UNSW Sydney, scientists found powerlifting is just as effective as bodyweight exercise for chronic low back pain.
They suggest that powerlifting style training is a safe, effective alternative to these bodyweight movements.
Chronic back pain can affect a person’s quality of life and in addition to pain, patients typically suffer from physical and psychological distress. By definition, chronic low back pain is pain that has lasted longer than three months.
Contemporary management of chronic back pain typically involves pain education and combined exercise such as traditional body weight and “core” exercises.
In the current study, the team compared general callisthenic exercise with a powerlifting style program, both paired with consistent pain education, for chronic low back pain.
During the study, the powerlifting group performed a one-repetition maximum (1RM) for the squat, bench press, and deadlift, which means they lifted the most amount of weight they could for one repetition.
This suggests that loading shouldn’t be avoided for people with chronic low back pain.
The main implication of the finding was that exercise for chronic low back pain did not need to subscribe to traditional systemized approaches and heavy lifting is both safe and just as effective.
The team says this is important as it means doctors are able to dose exercise appropriately for people with chronic low back pain to achieve positive health-related outcomes, rather than focus our prescription only on the individual’s low back pain.
The ability to appropriately dose exercise for people with chronic low back pain to achieve health-related outcomes allows practitioners to prioritize and inform individuals of the broader benefits of engaging in physical activity.
The researchers said they are optimistic about how the findings may be able to assist exercise-based practitioners to treat people with chronic low back pain.
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The study was conducted by Dr. Mitchell Gibbs et al and published in Clinical Rehabilitation.
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