This is a review of a 1999 study found on demonstrating the effects that isolated, progressive lumbar spine strengthening has in reducing low back pain. Our Spine Strong Program utilizes these techniques for our low back pain patients (source:

Finding Relief from Low Back Pain is a Challenge

Tips for Finding Lower Back Pain Relief

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Therapeutic exercise to treat chronic low back pain is one of the best treatments a doctor can recommend. Research and experience are proving that less bed rest and increased activity can have a positive effect on reducing low back pain.

The purpose of this article is to share information from a research study about the benefits of isolated lumbar strengthening using specialized equipment. The authors believe progressive therapeutic exercise is logical. Although hands-on and passive therapies help some patients with low back pain, symptom relief is usually short-term. Other research has demonstrated that specific exercise programs that increase flexibility and fitness levels correlate to a reduction in low back pain.

Low Back Pain Study Details
More than 400 chronic back pain sufferers took part in this study conducted at 2 back clinics. Each patient was evaluated before and at the end the study.

After discharge from the study, each patient’s progress was followed for one year.

Some of the tools used to measure each patient’s progress included a short written health survey, self-appraisal, and recording number and types of low back pain treatments received after the study concluded.

Physical therapists, clinical exercise physiologists, and certified athletic trainers worked with the patients. The standardized program included high-intensity back and general strengthening of major muscle groups, cardiovascular exercise, and exercises based on the McKenzie technique. Participants were referred to the study by their treating doctors.

A key component of the study involved measuring progress. The MedX Back Extension Machine was used to standardize measurement. This machine measured the strength of isolated low back extensor muscles. The low back extensor muscles attach to the back of the spine, help keep the body erect, and enable movement such as standing and lifting.

Study Success: 75%-82% of the participants reported improvement with their lower back pain during the treatment course.

Conclusion:  What Does This Low Back Pain Study Mean for You?
Patient outcomes suggest an exercise program where the low back muscles are isolated and strengthened help improve low back pain. Apart from reducing back pain, such a program can preserve spinal strength. Of course, not all patients with back pain are the same. There are many causes of low back pain spine specialists diagnose and treat. If you would like to know if spinal strengthening would help lessen your low back pain, talk to your doctor and/or physical therapist.

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  • Leggett S, Mooney V, Matheson LN, Nelson B, Dreisinger T, Van Zylveld J, Vie B. Restorative Exercise for Clinical Low Back Pain, A Prospective Two-Center Study with 1-Year Follow-Up . Spine. Vol. 24, No. 9, pp. 889-898, 1999.

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