Testing the deconditioning hypothesis of low back pain: A study in 1182 older women

Scott D. Tagliaferri, Gabriele Armbrecht, Clint T. Miller, Patrick J. Owen, Niamh L. Mundell, Dieter Felsenberg, Friederike Thomasius, Daniel L. Belavy

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7 Citations (Scopus)


This study assessed the deconditioning hypothesis of low back pain (LBP) by examining physical function in relation to LBP and self-reported physical activity in women. This cross-sectional study recruited a representative population-based sample of females aged greater than 60 years. In total, 1182 women were included in the study and completed questionnaires (physical activity and LBP intensity) and functional testing (countermovement jump, chair rise, gait speed and grip strength). Individuals were stratified into four groups based on physical activity and LBP status and analysed via a two-way ANOVA. Most participants (87%) reported current LBP and 25% were physically active. Countermovement jump height, chair rise and grip strength were lower in physically inactive women (p ≤ 0.005), but not women with LBP (p ≥ 0.21). Gait speed was not associated with physical activity or LBP status. There was no association between LBP and physical activity status. Whilst LBP was associated with lower physical activity, contrary to the deconditioning hypothesis, LBP status itself was not associated with reduced physical function in community-dwelling women 60 years and older. This implies that LBP may not be related to physical function in this population group, but rather to their physical activity levels.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-23
Number of pages7
JournalEuropean Journal of Sport Science
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • aged
  • Exercise
  • movement
  • walking speed

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