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  • Writer's pictureDave the physio

Deadlifts or motor control exercise for lower back pain?

Lower back pain is a common health condition which can cause a high burden physically, mentally and financially.

Over the years, a lot of research has been conducted to establish what would be the best exercise and rehab protocol to deal with lower back pain.

Many different schools of though ranging from manual therapy only, chiropractic adjustments, pilates, low grade exercise, surgery, and high load lifting have been used to treat this condition. But which one is the best for it?

Depending on where you get your information, people may tell you to go see a chiro for your back pain and get weekly "adjustments" for the rest of your life to treat your back pain. Others may tell you that you need to do Pilates and that is the only exercise you will be able to do. And others may tell you that you have to do a strength and conditioning program without consideration of motor control.

However the best current evidence we have for lower back pain rehab is.....

*Patient education*

By far the thing that has the biggest impact on recovery is what your health care practitioner tells you and how much you know about the actual condition.

If you are told you have a "bulging disc" and that you have to protect your lower back because it's weak and fragile. Guess what? You'll end up with more back pain.

If you are educated about the condition properly, and you understand that though there may be pain, your body is resilient and has the capacity to overcome and recover from the condition. Guess what? You'll have a better recovery.

The recovery process starts from the mind and having a clear understanding of what is going on in your body. Having the knowledge that you are able to get stronger, that you are able to do your daily activities (albeit with some modifications), and that there is the capacity to recover from your pain will allow you to be guided through the rehab process.

Once that is established, it is the job of your health professional to show you and guide you through your rehab journey.

Promoting movement and using all the different tools of rehabilitation e.g. manipulations, manual therapy, and exercise rehab; will form the basis of your rehab program.

So let's answer our first question.

Dead lifts or motor control exercise for lower back pain?

Why not both?

Recent research published in 2016 found that both high load lifting (deadlifts) and motor control exercises are effective in decreasing pain intensity and disability at both short- and long-term follow-up.

What this indicates is that there is not one treatment method that will be the cure for back pain. Some people will benefit much more from motor control, others much more from heavy lifting.

Is one better then the other? Not really.

But now we know that we can choose either treatment method depending on the needs of the patient to get the results that we want. (Improve lower back pain)

Full study:

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