Lumbar Strengthening in Chronic Low Back Pain Patients

Lumbar Strengthening in Chronic Low Back Pain Patients Physiologic and Psychological Benefits

Sherry V. Risch, PhD,* Nancy K. Norvell, PhD, Michael L. Pollock, PhD,* Edward D. Risch, MD, Howard Langer, RPT, Michael Fulton, MD,* James E. Graves, PhD,* and Scott H. Leggett, MS*


The effects of exercise for isolated lumbar extensor muscles were examined in 54 chronic lowback pain patients. Subjects were randomly assigned to a 10week exercise program (N = 31) or a waitlist control group (N = 23). Results indicated a significant increase in isometric lumbar extension strength for the treatment group and a significant reduction in reported pain compared with the control group (P 0.05). Treated subjects reported less physical and psychosocial dysfunction whereas the control group increased in pain, and physical and psychosocial disfunction.

There were no concomitant changes in reported daily activity levels.These results show that lumbar extension exercise is beneficial for strengthening the lumbar extensors and results in decreased pain and improved perceptions of physical and psychosocial functioning in chronic back pain patients. However, these improvements were not related to changes in activities or psychological distress.

Key words: chronic lowback pain, lumbar extension strength, psychological distress