Comparison of standing postural control and gait parameters in people with and without chronic low back pain: a cross-sectional case–control study

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Objective Differences in postural control and gait have been identified between people with and without chronic low back pain (CLBP); however, many previous studies present data from small samples, or have used methodologies with questionable reliability. This study, employing robust methodology, hypothesised that there would be a difference in postural control, and spatiotemporal parameters of gait in people with CLBP compared with asymptomatic individuals. Methods This cross-sectional case–control study age-matched and gender-matched 16 CLBP and 16 asymptomatic participants. Participants were assessed barefoot (1) standing, over three 40 s trials, under four posture challenging conditions (2) during gait. Primary outcome was postural stability (assessed by root mean squared error of centre of pressure (CoP) displacement (CoPRMSEAP) and mean CoP velocity (CoPVELAP), both in the anteroposterior direction); gait outcomes were hip range of movement and peak moments, walking speed, cadence and stride length, assessed using force plates and a motion analysis system. Results There were no differences between groups in CoPRMSEAP (P=0.26), or CoPVELAP (P=0.60) for any standing condition. During gait, no differences were observed between groups for spatiotemporal parameters, maximum, minimum and total ranges of hip movement, or peak hip flexor or extensor moments in the sagittal plane. Conclusions In contrast to previous research, this study suggests that people with mild to moderate CLBP present with similar standing postural control, and parameters of gait to asymptomatic individuals. Treatments directed at influencing postural stability (eg, standing on a wobble board) or specific parameters of gait may be an unnecessary addition to a treatment programme.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere000286
Number of pages9
JournalBritish Journal of Sports Medicine
Issue number1
Early online date23 Jan 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 23 Jan 2018


  • Low Back Pain
  • Posture
  • Posture control
  • Gait

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