Low Back Pain: What Exercises Truly Work

Evidence suggests approximately 35 percent of people who experience acute low back pain will suffer a recurrent episode within one year (Journal Pain 2009). One theory is that the acute low back pain episode causes a loss of motor control (ability to orderly and quickly contract muscles) of the deep muscles fibers of the lumbar spine. A recent research article demonstrated the connection between altered deep low back muscle activity and recurrent low back pain. It was shown that during simple movement tasks the activation or firing of the low back muscles was slowed or nonexistent in participants with low back pain (Spine, April 2010). The muscles of the low back are important stabilizers of the spine and any delay in muscle firing may lead to abnormal spinal movement or “instability”.

If there is a delay in muscle activation, the body may not be able to handle simple loading of the spine. For example, you “throw your back out” with simply sneezing or picking up a small object. Furthermore, studies have shown that atrophy of the low back muscles does occur with chronic low back pain further lending to the problem.

We now know which muscles are important for regaining stability of the spine and which exercises best elicit there contraction. Exercises geared at working the abdominals (rectus abdominus, inter obliqes, external obliqes and transverses abdominus muscles) with the back extensors and rotators (multifidus, erector spinae) give the patient the best opportunity for long term improvements. Please visit our website at mishock.wpengine.com to view some of the basic beginner spinal stabilization exercises. Remember it is important that your physical therapist perform a complete evaluation of your spine to determine which exercises are most appropriate for your low back pain.

Although specific exercises are important in spinal rehabilitation one should never forget the importance of manual therapy (use of hands in treating muscles and joints). Manual therapy (manipulation, fascial manipulation, Active Release, Graston techniques) has been shown to influence muscle function by normalizing the muscle and joint. This combination may further help to optimize low back pain recovery (JOSPT, Oct 2007).

We can help!

If pain is limiting you from doing the activities you enjoy, give Mishock Physical Therapy a call for a Free Phone Consultation at (610)327-2600. Also, visit our website to read more physical therapy related articles, learn more about our treatment philosophy, our physical therapy staff, and our 6 convenient locations in Gilbertsville, Skippack, Barto, Phoenixville, Limerick, and Stowe (Pottstown) at www.mishock.wpengine.com. Our mission is to exceed the expectations of our patients by providing excellence in care and service. We are here to serve you!

Dr. Mishock is one of only a few clinicians with doctorate level degrees in both physical therapy and chiropractic in the state of Pennsylvania.

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