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Exercises that strengthen back muscles effective for low back pain

Use of this type of treatment needs more research

Chronic low back pain (CLBP), meaning pain that lasts for at least 12 weeks, is one of the most common medical conditions out there. Though there are many factors that can cause CLBP, some have suggested that having weak muscles in the middle of the back may contribute to it. Following this logic, it's believed that strengthening these muscles can help reduce pain and disability in patients with CLBP. There are many devices available that are used to isolate and strengthen this region of the back, but the results from this type of resistance training for CLBP are not definitive and more research is needed. Therefore, a review was conducted using all available literature on the topic to determine the effectiveness of resistance training for CLBP in order to help better guide clinicians treating these patients.

Three databases searched for relevant studies

Three major medical databases were searched for any studies in which strengthening exercises that isolated back muscles were used to treat CLBP. A detailed approach was taken in this process to any literature identified, so that as the search progressed, references of appropriate studies were searched and knowledgeable authors were contacted for additional information. A total of 23 studies fit the inclusion criteria and were analyzed to establish a clearer picture of the effectiveness of these exercises.

Resistance training leads to improvements, but more research is needed

The studies reviewed showed that resistance training led to significant and meaningful improvements in pain and disability for patients with CLBP. Patients also reported a high level of satisfaction from the treatment. It was also found that resistance training is a time-effective strategy, as sessions require much less time than other types of therapy, and benefits can occur from as little as one 10-15 minute session per week. Despite this supportive evidence, the use of resistance exercise to treat CLBP still appears to be relatively uncommon, and there is a lack of research that compares it with other types of exercise. Therefore, while resistance training may be effective for patients with CLBP, more high-quality research is needed before any definitive recommendations can be made.

-As reported in the February '15 issue of PM & R

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