A comparison of water-based and land-based core stability exercises in patients with lumbar disc herniation

The purpose of this study was to determine and compare the effects of core stability exercise programs performed in two different environments in lumbar disc herniation (LDH) patients.

Thirty-one patients who were diagnosed with LDH and were experiencing pain or functional disability for at least 3 months were randomly divided into two groups as land-based exercises or water specific therapy. Also, 15 age-sex-matched healthy individuals were recruited as healthy controls. Both groups underwent an 8-week (3 times/week) core stabilization exercise program. Primary outcomes were pain, trunk muscle static endurance and perceived disability level. The secondary outcome was health-related quality of life.

Level of static endurance of trunk muscles was found to be lower in the patients compared to the controls at baseline (p < 0.05). Both treatment groups showed significant improvements in all outcomes (p < 0.05) after 8-week intervention. When two treatment groups were compared, no differences were found in the amount of change after the intervention (p > 0.05). After the treatment, static endurance of trunk muscles of the LDH patients became similar to controls (p > 0.05).

According to these results, core stabilization exercise training performed on land or in water both could be beneficial in LDH patients and there is no difference between the environments. 

An 8-week core stabilization program performed in water or on land decreases pain level and improves functional status in LDH patients.

Both programs seem beneficial to increase health-related quality of life and static endurance of trunk muscles. Core stability exercises could be performed in water as well, no differences were found between methods due to the environment.