Low back pain is the leading contributor to disability in Australia and globally, and nearly 4 million Australians suffer from low back pain at any one time, with the total cost of treatment exceeding $9 billion annually.
It is well recognised that although over one third of patients with an acute episode of low back pain will recover in the first nine months, for many, low back pain will reoccur.
In fact, 1 in 5 people who recover from an acute episode of low back pain will seek care for a new episode within 12 months. So what helps? Exercise, says Associate Professor Paulo Ferreira.
"The most valid piece of evidence we have to prevent lower back pain is exercise. That's probably the only intervention based on science"
The best news is it doesn't matter what type of exercise you choose, most types can be beneficial to prevent back pain.
"When we talk about exercise, we don't seem to have one form of exercise that is significantly better than others. Any kind of exercise is good to prevent lower back pain, as long as it is something that people are comfortable doing and will adhere to. You don't want to do something you are going to quit in a couple of weeks."
And what about looking after your back when you work a demanding job? Here are Professor Ferreira's tips:
Associate Professor Paulo Ferreira
Associate Professor, Physiotherapy
Associate Professor Paulo Ferreira is a physiotherapist with a Masters degree in Sports Rehabilitation and a PhD in Physiotherapy. Paulo's research interests are in the management of low back pain, spinal biomechanics and evidence based practice.