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Friday 14 March 2014

Solent study resistance exercise

This article was written by James Steele, BSc (Hons), PhD candidate and researcher at Southampton Solent University.


Since 2006, researchers in the Centre for Health, Exercise and Sport Science have been investigating chronic low back pain (CLBP). Several studies published by members of the Health, Exercise and Sport Science (HESS) research cluster have already started proving the effectiveness of resistance exercise for the isolated lumbar extensor muscles and have shown promising results. Recently however, I’ve published work that supports this approach even more.

In an article published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine last October, my colleagues and I explored which exercises are best for strengthening and conditioning the muscles of the lower back. We concluded that exercise must use a certain restraint set-up to isolate the lower back and deliver the best results. Fortunately this set-up is the same as that of the MedX Lumbar Extension Machine that we’ve been using in our CLBP research so far.

The concept behind using isolated lumbar extension exercise for CLBP is that weakness and deconditioning of the muscles supporting the lower back may be responsible for CLBP. In another article recently published in Current Medical Opinion and Research, my colleagues and I evaluated the research conducted in this area to see whether this was a potential explanation for the positive results we’d already had. We’ve actually found consistent evidence of deconditioned lower back muscles in people with CLBP. Some evidence also exists to suggest those with weak lower backs were at greater risk of developing low back pain.

Our results support the use of isolated lumbar extension resistance exercise for CLBP. However, there are still questions we are looking to answer. Members of the HESS cluster have recently joined up with the Anglo European College of Chiropractic (AECC) to do further research on this form of exercise for CLBP. We hope to use the AECC’s new upright MRI scanner to examine the effects this exercise on the intervertebral discs. We will also be working on a joint project with AECC looking to identify personal factors that predict success with this intervention.