A Publication of WTVP

In the United States alone, it’s estimated we spend $50 billion to $100 billion a year on the treatment of spinal problems. In the workers’ comp arena, it’s estimated we spend $40 billion a year for medical indemnity costs on lower back injuries. In fact, next to the common cold, back pain causes more absenteeism from work than anything else.

Though all medical specialists have their own unique perspectives and therapies on this matter and have helped countless acute back pain sufferers over the years, too many remain in chronic pain. According to physical therapist Gary Lindahl, “Most traditional spinal programs focus on passive modalities to relieve pain and not on restoring function. A number of recent research studies show back pain sufferers who use a more aggressive exercise approach are far more likely to return to work, have less pain, and are less likely to seek additional back treatment than those who use more traditional treatments.” 

The Problem

Regardless of the specific diagnosis, there’s one common link in most chronic low back pain: low back muscle weakness. Medical evidence indicates more than 80 percent of all low back pain cases are due to specific weak and deconditioned back muscles. Research proves that when we attempt to use our backs through various exercise movements or our daily activities, we scarcely utilize our back muscles at all. Instead, we use our strong thigh and buttocks muscles. The consequence is our back muscles become terribly weak from underuse.

The Solution

Research clearly shows a direct relationship between improvements in low back strength and pain reduction. Because pain reduces one’s ability to move, muscles weaken to a mere fraction of their potential strength, resulting in increased pain and discomfort. Fortunately, muscles respond rapidly to concentrated muscle strengthening. Stronger muscles then help take debilitating pressure off nerves, discs, and sore joints—relieving pain. In addition, studies show a large percentage of so-called “surgical candidates” have been able to avoid surgery by first undergoing an aggressive strengthening program.

The Key

The secret to strengthening the back muscles correctly lies in discovering how to immobilize the thigh and buttocks muscles so the back muscles can be isolated. Studies indicate almost all low back strengthening devices and equipment can’t adequately isolate these muscles. Dr. Michael Fulton, University of Florida, believes when these muscles are exposed to isolated, specific exercise, most subjects will increase the strength of these muscles by more than 100 percent in a remarkably short time. In almost all cases, an increase in lower back strength is accompanied by the elimination of pain and an improvement in functional ability. IBI