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Context: Therapeutic exercises are frequently prescribed to patients with low back pain. Numerous exercise programs for patients with low back pain have been described. Many of these treatment programs are based on 1 of 2 popular rehabilitation strategies: a motor control exercise approach or a general exercise approach.

Data Sources: PubMed clinical queries from 1966 to March 2013 for keyword combinations including motor control exercise, core stability exercise, therapeutic exercise, general exercise, global exercise, local exercise, transversus abdominis, segmental stabilization, and low back pain.

Study Selection: Randomized controlled trials that assessed the effects of a motor control exercise approach, a general exercise approach, or both for patients with low back pain that were published in scientific peer-reviewed journals.

Data Extraction: Included studies underwent appraisal for exercise intervention and outcomes.

Results: Fifteen studies were identified (8, motor control exercise approach without general exercise comparison; 7, general exercise approach with or without motor control exercise approach comparison). Current evidence suggests that exercise interventions may be effective at reducing pain or disability in patients with low back pain.

Conclusion: Stabilization exercises for patients with low back pain may help to decrease pain and disability. It may not be necessary to prescribe exercises purported to restore motor control of specific muscles.