Could sexual activity trigger lower back pain? No, says a new study that lays the greater blame on heavy lifting.

Researchers at the George Institute for Global Health, Australia, interviewed around a thousand people about what they believed triggered their back pain to evaluate the accuracy of their perceptions of its cause.

But contrary to popular opinion, sexual activity was not a major trigger, with only three people nominating it as the cause of their pain, Sydney Morning Herald reported.

"They weren’t afraid of talking about sexual activity but they really didn’t identify sexual activity as being a possible cause of back pain and they were spot on," said senior researcher professor Manuela Ferreira.

People who blamed an incident that had occurred weeks or months before they felt pain, those who could not remember and those who said they had just woken up with the pain were considered not to know what had triggered their pain.

But about two-thirds of the respondents were able to identify a specific incident.

Ferreira said people with lower back pain were most likely to nominate physical causes or those related to minor tasks, but they underestimated psychosocial causes of back pain, such as being tired or distracted.

Previous research demonstrates that people are 25 times more likely to injure their backs when they are distracted during heavy lifting activity.

The most common cause identified was carrying heavy loads, which was nominated by nearly one in five respondents, followed by moderate or physical activity and awkward posture.

Two of the riskiest activities for back pain emerged as gardening and golf.

The study was published in the journal Pain.