Slump stretching may be beneficial to individuals with low back pain — based on very low to moderate quality evidence — according to a meta-analysis published in Pain Medicine.
Slump stretching is achieved when sitting in a slouched position (ie, with thoracic and lumbar flexion and a posterior pelvic tilt) and actively flexing one’s cervical spine as far as possible while remaining comfortable.
Electronic databases were searched for studies in which the efficacy of slump stretching was examined in patients with low back pain. A total of 12 studies were included, with 3 studies in which slump stretching was compared with other physical therapy interventions, and 9 studies in which the addition of slump stretching to another intervention was examined. The primary outcomes for this systematic review were pain and disability, and secondary outcomes included range of motion.
A total of 515 patients with low back pain were included in the final pooled analysis. Slump stretching was found to reduce the intensity of low back pain, as indicated by a large effect size (standardized mean difference, –2.15; 95% CI, –3.35 to – 0.95). Pain across studies was found to be heterogeneous (I2 =94.2%). The beneficial effect of slump stretching on low back pain-associated disability was found to be clinically important (standardized mean difference, –8.03; 95% CI, –11.59 to –4.47). In a qualitative analysis, slump stretching was also associated with increases in straight leg raise and active knee extension range of motion.
Limitations of the analysis include the small number of available studies and the inclusion of studies with short-term follow-up.
“Further high-quality research regarding the long-term effects of slump stretching vs validated control intervention in a clinical setting is recommended,” the researchers concluded.
Pourahmadi M, Hesarikia H, Keshtkar A, et al. Effectiveness of slump stretching on low back pain: a systematic review and meta-analysis [published online December 24, 2018]. Pain Med. doi: 10.1093/pm/pny208