Study finds association between muscle strengthening activity & lower odds of low back pain

In a study published in August 2017, researchers measured the association between low back pain (LBP) & muscle-strengthening activity (MSA) in adults. They found that engaging in MSA at least 2 times per week was associated with having lower odds of having LBP. However, they found that this association did not hold in male smokers.


12,721 people took part in this 5-year study. They were divided into 3 categories based on their level of MSA:

  • no MSA
  • insufficient MSA (less than 1 day per week)
  • sufficient MSA (at least 2 days per week)


Each person was then asked whether they had experienced LBP in the past 3 months.


The study found that in both men and women:

  • people in the sufficient MSA group had lower odds of having LBP &
  • current smokers had higher odds of having LBP than non-smokers.


However, the association between more MSA and less LBP did not hold for men who were current smokers.


This study, published in the prestigious journal, Spine, shows that engaging in MSA more than 2 times per week is associated with lower odds of having LBP. However, the relationship varies by gender and smoking status.


The researchers pointed out that the study does not definitively prove that MSA decreases LBP. For example, people with LBP may be less likely to engage in MSA because of their pain. They conclude that doctors should discuss the benefits of MSA in treating LBP with their clients.


The takeaway from this research is that injured people:

  • who smoke should strongly consider quitting if they want a speedier recovery,
  • should work with their physiotherapists & other treating people on an exercise program that may involve strengthening, stretching & cardio exercise &
  • should talk to their physician & other treating people as to whether they think that they would benefit now or in the future from working one on one with a kinesiologist.
    • Kinesiology is the study of the principles of mechanics & anatomy in relation to human movement.
    • ICBC is generally willing to fully fund a kinesiologist’s fees, with no user fees, if a claimant’s family physician recommends it in a note.



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This article is not intended as a substitute for medical advice. Readers should consult their physician in matters relating to health, especially if the symptoms require medical attention.