BackgroundNon-specific chronic low back pain (nscLBP) has a high socio-economic relevance due to its high incidence, prevalence and associated costs. Therefore, it is essential to evaluate effective therapeutic strategies. This study examines the effects of moderate mountain exercise and spa therapy on orthopedic and psychophysiological parameters. Based on a three-armed randomized controlled trial, guided mountain hiking tours and balneotherapy in thermal water were compared to a control group.MethodsEighty patients with diagnosed nscLBP were separated into three groups: The two intervention groups GE (green exercise) and GEBT (green exercise and balneotherapy) undertook daily mountain hiking tours, whereas the GEBT group got an additional treatment with baths in Mg-Ca-SO4 thermal water. The third group (CO) received no intervention. GE and GEBT group were treated for 6 days; all groups were followed up for 120 days.ResultsCompared to GE and CO group, the GEBT treatment showed significant improvements of pain, some orthopedic parameters, health-related quality of life and mental well-being in patients with nscLBP.ConclusionsThe results of this study confirmed a benefit of mountain hiking combined with Mg-Ca-SO4 spa therapy as a multimodal treatment of patients with nscLBP. Further studies should focus on long-term-effects of this therapeutic approach.Trial registrationISRCTN, ISRCTN99926592. Registered 06. July 2018 - Retrospectively registered.