Researchers recommend an exercise machine that has been designed specifically for back muscles. They claim it could offer renewed hope to low back pain sufferers.
The finding has been published in the Journal of the American College of Sports Medicine.
Low back pain (or lumbago) is a common ailment often triggered by something as simple as lifting a suitcase.
"If you want to bring about physiological change to help the development and endurance of back muscles, you must focus your training on those specific muscles and not other muscular groups such as hip extensors," says Christian Larivihre, a professor at the Institut de recherche Robert-Sauvi en santi et en sicuriti du travail (IRSST), who conducted the study with Universiti de Montrial researchers Bertrand Arsenault, Rubens A. Da Silva, Sylvie Nadeau, Andri Plamondon et Roger Vadeboncoeur.
The investigation requested that subjects aged 18 to 65 - some healthy and others with low back pain - complete various exercises. Electromyography (EMG) sensors were used to measure the level of activity and fatigue in various muscles during the routine. "Thanks to this technique, we can target tired muscles which aren't yet showing a decrease in strength," says Larivihre.
Test subjects also used a machine designed for back exercises in a semi-sitting position. Results clearly showed that using this machine was beneficial. Using a cushion to stabilize the pelvis brought about a better response from the back muscles. In addition, extending the legs strengthened muscles.
"Therefore, we can decrease the use of hip muscles and in turn increase the use of the back muscles," says Larivihre.
Such exercises can only help reduce pain and disabilities caused by back pain, says Larivihre.
He recommends those who suffer severe hurt begin with stretches on the ground with low to medium effort. "Progressively, the individual will gain confidence and can use machines that require superior strength," he says.