Pilates and cycling are similar at reducing lower back pain

 People with chronic lower back pain are likely to experience similar benefits from using a cycling machine or doing Pilates for six months, says a study from Australia published in Spine.

A total of 64 people with chronic lower back pain were split into two groups: eight weeks of Pilates or cycling machines for eight weeks.

After the eight-week programme, levels of pain and disability were lower in the Pilates group than in the cycling group, but after six months, there were no long-term differences between the two treatment groups.

Pilates provided greater improvements than cycling at eight weeks, but not at six months.

“If a patient with low back pain adheres to either specific trunk exercises or stationary cycling, it is reasonable to think that similar improvements will be achieved,” the team says.

“Exercise is the most important way that you can help yourself if you experience back pain, and research shows that regular exercise leads to less frequent and shorter episodes of back pain,” says a spokesperson from Arthritis Research UK. “Any regular exercise that helps to make you flexible and stronger and increase your stamina is good, for example swimming, walking, going to the gym – and yoga and Pilates.”