Back on Earth

Many people will have pain in their low back at some time in their lives, and it is a common reason for people missing work. The main goal when treating low back pain is to help patients manage the pain and return to their normal activities. 

Researcher Dr Julie Hides APAM, FACP, undertook a study of astronauts after six months of zero gravity on the International Space Station and a 15-day reconditioning program back on Earth. Using ultrasound imaging, she investigated the changes in muscle size and function of the lumbar multifidus and anterolateral abdominal muscles to determine if the response to microgravity could inform the development of specific countermeasures that may have applications for people with low back pain conditions on Earth.

Dr Hides found that many of the changes in trunk muscle size and function observed in microgravity were also seen in people with low back pain on Earth and that the exercises developed for astronauts after prolonged exposure to microgravity can be applied to people with chronic low back pain. 

The findings of the research study have been summarised by the Physiotherapy Research Foundation (PRF) and transformed into this infographic. For more information and to read the research abstract click here. Click on the image below to access a printable A3 file.

This #infographic is a PRF initiative supported by Pain Away Australia, Australia’s No. 1 joint & muscle spray, and cream topical pain relief brand containing arnica and naturally derived active ingredients, and partner of the PRF.


About the Researcher:

Julie Hides is a professor in physiotherapy at Griffith University. She is passionate about researching topics that have direct clinical application and can be readily translated into practice. Following graduation from the University of Queensland, Julie worked as a clinician at the Mater Hospital in Brisbane. After obtaining her PhD in physiotherapy from the University of Queensland, Julie worked as an academic at University of Queensland and then in leadership positions at Australian Catholic University and Griffith University. Research focus areas include exercise therapy for people with low back pain, musculoskeletal imaging, risk factors for sports injuries and reconditioning post exposure to prolonged bedrest and microgravity conditions.

Julie is the clinical director of the Mater Back Stability Research Clinic at the Mater Hospital in Brisbane. She has been a member of two European Space Agency (ESA) topical teams and a researcher on three prolonged bed rest studies in collaboration with the European Space Agency. She was a member of the Academy of Science National Committee - Space Medicine and Life Sciences working group and is currently a member of the Australian Space Agency Space Medicine and Life Sciences Technical Advisory Group.