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Pilates, Stationary Cycling Deliver Similar Benefits For People With Chronic Low Back Pain

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A while ago, researchers from Australia´s University of Western Sydney examined the effect of trunk muscle exercises on patients with chronic low back pain. They have now followed that with a study into the effects produced by stationary cycling. Comparison between the two sets of results shows that Pilates (which incorporates trunk muscle exercises) and cycling deliver similar benefits in the longer term.

The report, which has been published in the journal Spine, says that the researchers used 64 patients with chronic non-specific low back pain for the eight-week study. Half of them were instructed to follow a Pilates exercise programme, while the other half were assigned to a stationary cycling group. The subjects provided data on their pain level (self-assessed), disability, catastrophising and fear-avoidance beliefs before the start of the programme, immediately after its completion and six months later.

At the end of the training programme, members of the Pilates group reported greater improvement in terms of pain and disability. The scores for fear-avoidance beliefs in that group were improved by the end of the programme, while a reduction was recorded after six months for the cycling group. Past the six-month mark, the researchers did not find any difference in the outcomes for either patient group.

The scientific team concluded that Pilates delivered greater benefits than cycling at eight weeks but the advantages were lost after six months. This means that people suffering from chronic low back pain can expect similar improvement in the longer term regardless of which exercise programme they choose, provided that they adhere to the workout routine.