High Intensity Training Is an Effective Modality to Improve Long-Term Disability and Exercise Capacity in Chronic Nonspecific Low Back Pain: A Randomized Controlled Trial

J. Verbrugghe*, D. Hansen, C. Demoulin, J. Verbunt, N.A. Roussel, A. Timmermans

*Corresponding author for this work

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Previous research indicates that high intensity training (HIT) is a more effective exercise modality, as opposed to moderate intensity training (MIT), to improve disability and physical performance in persons with chronic nonspecific low back pain (CNSLBP). However, it is unclear how well benefits are maintained after intervention cessation. This study aimed to evaluate the long-term effectiveness of HIT on disability, pain intensity, patient-specific functioning, exercise capacity, and trunk muscle strength, and to compare the long-term effectiveness of HIT with MIT in persons with CNSLBP. Persons with CNSLBP (n = 35) who participated in a randomized controlled trial comparing effects of an HIT versus MIT intervention (24 sessions/12 weeks) were included for evaluation at baseline (PRE), directly after (POST), and six months after program finalization (FU) on disability, pain intensity, exercise capacity, patient-specific functioning, and trunk muscle strength. A general linear model was used to evaluate PRE-FU and POST-FU deltas of these outcome measures in each group (time effects) and differences between HIT and MIT (interaction effects). Ultimately, twenty-nine participants (mean age = 44.1 year) were analysed (HIT:16; MIT:13). Six participants were lost to follow-up. At FU, pain intensity, disability, and patient-specific functioning were maintained at the level of POST (which was significant from PRE, p < 0.05) in both groups. However, HIT led to a greater conservation of lowered disability and improved exercise capacity when compared with MIT (p < 0.05). HIT leads to a greater maintenance of lowered disability and improved exercise capacity when compared to MIT six months after cessation of a 12-week supervised exercise therapy intervention, in persons with CNSLBP.</p>
Original languageEnglish
Article number10779
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number20
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2021


  • chronic low back pain
  • exercise therapy
  • high intensity training

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