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Glute strengthening to rehab lower back pain
Low back pain (LBP) will eventually affect almost all of us. A Canadian prevalence study interviewing ~2200 adults found that at any given time ~30% of us are presently experiencing LBP and that ~84% of us have experienced it at some point during our lifetime (Cassidy et al, 1998).
Given the high prevalence, attempting to establish evidence-based methods of rehabbing this has been a priority for researchers for decades.
Glutes. Their anatomy in relation to the lower back is interesting. If you look at their fibres, especially those belonging to the glute max, the fibre orientation resembles guy wires supporting a radio tower - it would make sense that their strength could help establish stability in this region. The research establishing this relationship is severely lacking however.
As of December 2017, 14 studies comparing glute strength in those with LBP vs pain-free people have come to the general conclusion that there seems to be an association between one-sided glute weakness and the development of LBP on that side (de Sousa et al, 2017).
Could strengthening the glutes lead to improved pain? To date, only 2 small but well-performed studies have investigated this (Burns et al, 2011 and Bade et al, 2017) with both showing promising results.
Currently Burns et al is actively recruiting for a randomized controlled study looking at hip rehab for those with LBP (Burns et al, article in press), and hopefully results from this study will strengthen the evidence surrounding what many of us already assume to be true.
Until that evidence arises however - longstanding LBP despite rehab? Have your glutes been addressed yet? Could be time to start.
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