Therapeutic Climbing Beneficial for Chronic Low Back Pain

Physical functioning and health perception improve with climbing, compared to standard exercise

FRIDAY, May 13 (HealthDay News) -- Compared with a standard exercise regime, therapeutic climbing offers patients with chronic low back pain superior benefits in terms of perceived health and physical functioning, according to a study published in the May 15 issue of Spine.

Kai Engbert, Ph.D., and Michaela Weber, from the Technical University Munich in Germany, investigated the physical and psychological effects of therapeutic climbing, and assessed whether it was comparable or superior to other forms of exercise for patients with chronic low back pain. A cohort of 28 patients underwent a four-week therapeutic climbing or standard exercise regime, including four guided training sessions per week. Patients completed questionnaires before and after the program assessing their physical and mental well-being.

The investigators found that there was no difference before or after the treatments in pain-related disability measured by the Hannover Functional Ability Questionnaire. For the Short Form-36 (SF-36), significant improvements were seen in two of eight subscales for therapeutic climbing, and in one subscale for standard exercise. According to the SF-36 physical functioning and general health perception subscales, significantly larger improvements were seen in the therapeutic climbing group.

"This finding demonstrates that therapeutic climbing is equivalent and partly superior to standard exercise therapy for patients with chronic low back pain," the authors write.

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