When my back goes out should I see a chiropractor or just get back to my exercise routine? Is there any proof that one works better than another?

There are some studies that support the use of stabilization exercises for low back pain. Stabilization exercises are sometimes called core training. Specific muscles in the spine and abdomen are strengthened in this program. The data shows a reduced risk of repeated bouts of back pain after doing core exercises.

At the same time studies show that core training works better when combined with manipulative therapy. The patients who got the best results had a recent onset of back pain rather than long-term, ongoing back pain lasting months to years.

There are fewer episodes of repeated back pain when core training is used compared to medical treatment with advice and pain relievers. Core training compared to general exercises showed no difference in results.

For acute strain your best bet is to try both at the same time. For chronic, long-term pain that comes back often, try a program of general exercise on a regular basis.