Background: Physical activity (PA) is essential in the management and rehabilitation of low back pain (LBP). However, it is not clear that PA interventions in the workplace can improve LBP. This study aimed to investigate the effects of workplace counseling on PA levels, and LBP and physical function among workers.
Methods: We recruited 37 people with 12 weeks of LBP who worked as office staff or machinery mechanic in a manufacturing company in Aichi, Japan. Participants were randomly assigned to the intervention group (n = 20) or control group (n = 17). All participants of both groups were affixed with waist-worn accelerometers to monitor PA. The intervention group also received a program of face-to-face counseling with a physical therapist or nurse once a week for 12 weeks to reassure and encourage participants to maintain a high level of PA. PA, LBP severity and physical function were assessed at baseline, 3 and 6 months.
Results: Baseline characteristics were similar in both groups. PA was significantly higher in the intervention group than in the control group at 3 and 6 months. In the intervention group, PA and physical function significantly increased at 3 and 6 months from baseline, and LBP severity at 6 months improved significantly from baseline. We calculated the effect size of the PA workplace counseling and found that it had a medium-to-large effect on PA, LBP severity and physical function.
Conclusions: Our data suggest that workplace PA intervention can increase PA and improve LBP among workers.
Trial registration: UMIN-CTR Clinical Trial UMIN000038864 (https://upload.umin.ac.jp/cgi-open-bin/ctr_e/ctr_view.cgi?recptno=R000044321). Registered 12 December 2019, retrospectively registered.