Biopsychosocial Exercise Interventions for Low Back Pain

Biopsychosocial Exercise Interventions for Low Back Pain

Biopsychosocial Exercise Interventions for Low Back Pain

Current best practice approaches for exercise interventions for chronic low back pain (CLBP) involve the addition of pain education under a biopsychosocial framework. However, in research and practice, the biopsychosocial element of the intervention is often derived from the education/adjunct cognitive modality (e.g., CBT) with exercise prescription often following a traditional, biomedical logic. This combination of exercise and education often ends up being derived from conflicting underlying philosophies with biopsychosocial pain education and biomedically-informed exercise, which has the potential to cause confusion for patients/clients. 

Contemporary research has investigated how exercise for CLBP can evolve from previous, systemised biomedical approaches to fit within a biopsychosocial approach to practice. A central theme to these findings is the prescription of exercise for the individual rather than for the condition. This conceptual paradigm shift expands the options of exercise prescription for people with CLBP, which has the potential to lead to greater outcomes on the individual level. 

An additional focus of this research has been the ability for practitioners to appropriately dose exercise to manage multimorbidity. Traditional exercise approaches for CLBP have not been sufficiently dosed to provide health-related outcomes based on physical activity guidelines and in-turn, insufficient over-time to prevent/manage co-morbidity. This is especially concerning with the understanding that people with chronic pain are 17% more likely to suffer from cardiovascular disease, which may be owing to decreased levels of physical activity.  

This online activity will explore the origins of traditional, biomedical exercise approaches to CLBP, in order to demonstrate the inconsistencies with current understandings of pain. This approach to biopsychosocial education has been shown to be effective with AEPs regarding clinical decision-making for CLBP. After highlighting inconsistencies of biomedically-informed exercise for CLBP, this online activity will explore the paradigm shift of the biopsychosocial model and the principles of person-centred exercise prescription, as opposed to condition (CLBP) centred. Finally, this online activity will culminate in a practical application section of how to approach the design (and co-design) of exercise for a person with CLBP under a biopsychosocial framework. 

This is a recording of an ESSA webinar presented on 17 April 2023. 

Presented by Dr Mitchell Gibbs, AES

Dr Mitchell Gibbs is a lecturer and researcher investigating exercise and chronic pain as well as how to best integrate these approaches into clinical practice. Dr Mitch has been practicing since 2014 and designing/delivering tertiary education since 2017. Dr Mitch’s teaching areas focus on exercise for musculoskeletal pain and strength and conditioning.  

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Any Accredited Exercise Scientist, Accredited Exercise Physiologist.


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