Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

General Spine News

Spine Exercises Shown to Improve Function, without Changes in Muscle Fatigue

What would improve America's health the most? Is it to prevent strokes and heart attacks? Breast or prostate cancer? Cure diabetes? According to the International Forum for Primary Care Research, it would be to solve the mystery of chronic back pain.

Find the best way to treat this problem and you could save billions of dollars in health care costs, not to mention saving millions of back pain sufferers the disability that can come with low back dysfunction (LBD). LBD is thought to be the cause of low back pain for many people.

Dr. Paul Sung, a physical therapist from the Iowa Spine Research Center, is trying to find some exercises that work for LBD. He reports that spinal stabilization exercises may be the answer. These exercises may protect the back from stress, instability, and injury. Deep spine muscles such as the multifidi help position and hold the spine over a period of time. These muscles have an important role in endurance. Improving the multifidi muscle action and endurance might make a difference for patients with LBD.

A small study of 16 subjects did spinal stabilization exercises for four weeks, three times each week. Dr. Sung looked to see if these exercises change multifidus muscle fatigue in people with LBD. He found that peoples' function improved, even though there were no changes in fatigue. Women improved in endurance while men got much worse. It looks like spinal stabilization exercises do affect back muscle function--just not the way Dr. Sung was expecting.

Something else besides improving endurance of the multifidi muscles is at work here. More study is needed to get find out what effect stabilization exercises have on these important spinal muscles.

Paul S. Sung, PT, DHSc. Multifidi Muscles Median Frequency before and after Spinal Stabilization Exercises. In Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. September 2003. Vol. 84. No. 9. Pp. 1313-1318.


*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
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