Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Kinesiology and Health Science

Committee Chair(s)

Dennis Dolny


Dennis Dolny


Cameron Peterson


Eadric Bressel


Lori Olsen


Introduction: Low back pain is very common in the adult population and accounts for more time lost from work than other diagnoses. It also affects athlete's at all different levels of competition and results in missed practice and game time. Diagnosing and treating a specific pathology is often difficult because clinical evaluation and radiologic studies are often unable to find a root cause. A popular treatment approach with a high volume of anecdotal evidence is the use of core stabilization exercise in the treatment of low back pain.

Purpose: To evaluate exercise as a treatment for a low back pain with a specific emphasis on core stabilization and provide an outline of exercises and progression to help guide clinicians in treating the athlete with low back pain.

Methods: A search of electronic databases was performed including; PubMed, SPORTDiscus, Google Scholar, and Cochrane Databased. Key words used: Lumbar stabilization, core stabilization, low back pain, athletes, exercise, and core strengthening and any combination of these words.

Exercises and Progressions: Based on the search of electronic databases their does appear to be some efficacy established in the general population of core stabilization exercises. However, at this time does not appear to be superior to other exercise interventions. There are no specific studies involving athletes so evidence based treatment of athletes so evidence based treatment of athletes using core stabilization is limited. The literature seems to establish a need to total core muscles recruitment to stabilize the spine and does not identify one specific muscle as being critical for spinal stability. The program designed is based on firing of the entire core muscular to stabilize the spine with an emphasis to functional movements that imitate sport-like situations. The Exercises chosen were based on how effectively they challenge the muscle groups without causing loads that may be detrimental to recovery and pain free movement.

Conclusion: Due to the demands placed on the athlete's lumbar vertebrae, spinal instability may be a significant source of pain in athlete not diagnosed with other pathologies. While at this time there is insufficient evidence to support or refute the use of stabilization exercise in the treatment of low back pain in athlete's, this paper hopefully gives insight into some exercises that may be used to reestablish core muscle strength and endurance.


This work made publicly available electronically on June 10, 2012.