Specific versus general exercises for recurrent low back pain: unraveling the puzzle of peripheral muscle and central brain changes

01 January 2018 → 31 December 2021
Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO)
Research disciplines
No data available
back pain
Project description

Exercise therapy has been shown to be effective in decreasing pain and improving function for

patients with recurrent low back pain. Research on the mechanisms that trigger and/or underlie the

effects of exercise therapy on low back pain problems is of critical importance for prevention of

recurring or persistence of this costly and common condition. One factor that seems to be crucial

within this context is the dysfunction of the back muscles. Recent pioneering results have shown

that individuals with recurring episodes of low back pain have specific dysfunctions of these muscles

(peripheral changes) and also dysfunctions at the cortical level (central changes). This work provides

the foundation to take a fresh look at the interplay between peripheral and central aspects, and its

potential involvement in exercise therapy. The current project will draw on this opportunity to

address the following research questions:

What are the immediate (after a single session) and the long-term effects (after 18 repeated

sessions) of exercise training on:

- the back muscle structure;

- the back muscle function;

- the structure of the brain;

- functional connectivity of the brain.

This research project also aims to examine whether the effects are dependent on how the training

was performed. Therefore a specific versus a general exercise program will be compared.