Fear of Movement and Walking Among Obese Seniors with Low-Back Pain

Kinesiophobia, fear of movement, plagues many people with low-back pain. A study involving older adults with obesity and low-back pain sought to determine what factors resulted in kinesiophobia, and how this fear affected walking endurance.

The study, a secondary analysis from a larger investigation, included participants who were 60-85 years old, sufferers of low-back pain, and either overweight, obese, or severely obese. Participants completed both a battery of surveys related to kinesiophobia and a walking treadmill test to determine walking endurance time. Participants also rated their peak low-back pain level during the walk test.

The study found that walking endurance times did not differ by level of obesity. However, the peak back pain ratings were higher in the moderately and severely obese groups compared to the overweight group. Kinesiophobia was not found to significantly affect walking endurance.

From this study, researchers identified the Tampa Scale of Kinesiophobia (TSK-11) to be a fast and easy measurement tool to identify patients at risk of movement fear and perceptions of disability. The other test used in this study that was identified as effective was the Oswestry Disability Index. The authors of the study also recommended that obese seniors with low-back pain be treated for fear of movement, if present, in order to fully participate in low-back pain treatment.


Vincent H, et al. Kinesiophobia and fear-avoidance beliefs in overweight adults with chronic low-back pain: relationship to walking endurance- part II. American Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation 2013; March 8 [Epub ahead of print].