Eugene K. Wai, MD, MSc, CIP, FRCSC1
R. Michael Galbraith, DO, CCFP (SEM), Dip Sport Med2
Denise C. Lawrence Wai BScPT3
Susan Yungblut, PT, MBA4
Ted Findlay, DO, CCFP, FCFP5

1 is an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in the care of adult spinal disorders. He is also an Associate Professor in the Department of Surgery at the University of Ottawa. In addition he is the Research Chair for the Canadian Spine Society.
2Private practice Elite Sports Medicine in Lethbridge, AB.. Head Team Physician, Lethbridge Hurricanes (WHL). Clinical Lecturer, Dept of Family Medicine, University of Calgary School of Medicine.
3 is a Physical Therapist in Ottawa and a Research Assistant at The Ottawa Hospital.
4 Physiotherapist, Liquidgym, Ottawa; Nordic Walking Instructor and Urban Poling Master Trainer, OttawaNordicWalks; Past Director, Exercise is Medicine Canada
5 is a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Medicine at the University of Calgary. He is also in a Private Family Medicine practice. In addition he is on Medical Staff at Alberta Health Services, Calgary Zone in Calgary, Alberta.


Abstract: Exercise is one of the most effective and simplest evidence-based recommendations to manage acute and chronic back pain. This paper discusses the physiology and evidence to support exercise as effective treatment. We will provide guidance on how to assess and prescribe exercise and offer methods to educate and encourage physical activity for patients with back pain.
Key Words: Back Pain, Physical Activity, Exercise Prescription, Motivational Interviewing.

Members of the College of Family Physicians of Canada may claim MAINPRO-M2 Credits for this unaccredited educational program.

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1. Exercise is one of the most effective and simplest evidence-based recommendations to manage acute and chronic back pain.
2. For chronic back pain the most important exercise is the one the patient will actually do.
3. For acute back pain the exercise prescriptions should take into account the patient's directional preference of exercise (Pattern of Pain) and the patient's unique situation.
4. Exercise Prescriptions should include the F.I.T.T. principle (Frequency, Intensity, Time and Type).
Simply asking the patient about exercise has been shown to be effective in improving health outcomes. Consistent messaging about the positive role of physical activity is important.
Most forms of physical activity are usually beneficial. The exercise prescription should take in to account what the patient is actually prepared to do.
Patients often require reassurance that pain associated with exercising does not lead to physical harm.
Motivational interviewing is a structured, empathetic method to engage resistant patients.
Walking is free.
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