How Strength Training Can Eliminate Back Pain

The absence of appropriate exercise and hours sitting at desks has resulted in a global back pain epidemic. 99% of the time the solution is not drugs or numerous visits to medical professionals, in fact it’s much simpler than that.


Up to 80% of people have experienced back pain sometime during their life, with 40% having episodes lasting more than 12 months and around 25% during the past three months. Furthermore, back pain is one of the highest reasons for both short and long term absenteeism from work accounting for 40% of reported sickness related absences (NHS Back in Work report: 2009). Though there are many reasons and causes of back pain and in many cases it could easily be prevented through proper strengthening of the spinal erector muscles; these are the muscles that support the spine. The cost of back pain to the UK economy is estimated £37 million (Back Care UK).

This figure shows what happens to our strength over time. For both genders, strength is at its highest between the second and third decade. Thereafter, each decade strength declines. We also know that the muscle tissue which allows us to express strength declines by 2% each year and is replaced by fatty tissue. Spinal deconditioning has become much more prevalent and pronounced in more recent times due to more sedentary lifestyles which are particularly pervasive in societies where occupations and everyday habits are desk bound.

In order to counteract the effects of spinal de-conditioning, regular isolated strength training of the lumbar extensors have proven to be most effective intervention of lower back pain (Stephan, Goebel and Schmidtbleicher, 2011) and can reduce the effects of age related bones diseases such as osteoporosis and spinal stenosis (Vandervoort, 2002). Furthermore, strengthening the lumbar extensors is necessary and crucial post-operative intervention and recovery after vertebral disc prolapse. With the correct exercise equipment combined with a systematic strength training concept, we can help and support individuals who typically present spinal deconditioning.

My clients are lucky in that lumbar extensor training on a state-of-the-art machine by a skilled and experienced professional trainer is one of the most important exercises in their training programme. What’s more, our back muscles are no different to the muscles in our legs, arms or chest. They respond and adapt to correct exercise and get stronger.


NHS Back at Work Report: Introduction and Key messages (2009)

Stephan, A., Goebel, S., and Schmidtbleicher, D. Effects of machine-based strength training in the therapy of chronic back pain. German Journal of Sports Medicine 2011; 62. 69-74.

Vandervoort AA. Aging of the human neuromuscular system. Muscle Nerve 2002: 25: 17–25.

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