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Low Back Pain? Get in the Pool!

PT vs Aquatic Exercise for Chronic Low Back Pain

Chronic lower back pain is, unfortunately, ubiquitous. A study in JAMA Network Open reports some good news: aquatic exercise used for therapy for those with chronic low back pain has been shown to be effective! Although it’s a relatively small study—a clinical trial of 113 people—results were encouraging, with improvements seen in the long term, and comparatively better than physical therapy. Improvements were noted in pain, sleep, functioning, mental state, and quality of life. Researchers report, “Water is an ideal environment for conducting an exercise program given its various properties, including buoyancy pressure, density, thermal capacity and conductivity.”

The therapeutic aquatic groups, compared to the physical therapy group, had a greater alleviation of disability after 3, 6, and 12 months. The study concluded that “participants in the therapeutic aquatic exercise group gained significantly greater and more clinically meaningful improvement in disability compared with improvement in the physical therapy modalities group” and that “the improvement in pain and dysfunction in the therapeutic aquatic exercise group was not only statistically significant but was also clinically significant.”


Read the journal article.

Holly Caster