Posts Tagged ‘back pain’

More back-pain breakthroughs: the role of the La-Z-Boy

March 8th, 2010

In the wake of last week’s article on strength training and back pain, I got an e-mail letting me know about another important aspect of back pain recovery that I’d neglected to mention:

While there’s plenty of advice out there about how to exercise correctly, there’s not much out there about how to relax – which should be part of any exercise regimen – particularly for people experiencing back pain.

Fortunately, my correspondent had the answer:

To that end, did you know – and this is something both physicians and chiropractors apparently agree on (see below) – there’s now a recent, and valid, medical argument that time spent in your La-Z-Boy, might actually be good for your lower back?

Gadzooks, what wonderful news!

Okay, okay, you’ve now figured out that my new friend is a PR guy for La-Z-Boy. But I thought the e-mail was pretty funny — and, unlike many of the unintentionally hilarious PR pitches I receive, he thought so too:

I hope you’ll receive this email in the spirit its intended, 50% in all seriousness, 50% tongue planted firmly in cheek.

I have to admit, he had my hopes up. I was looking forward to reading about clinical trials where people watched TV from La-Z-Boys versus flimsy folding chairs or something. In the end, the “medical evidence” was a survey of doctors and an endorsement from the American Chiropractic Association. Their doctor-spokesperson recommends “relaxing in reclining furniture that offers total body and lumbar support as well as varying degrees of reclining, since every person has unique support needs.”

So take it for what it’s worth (i.e. it’s common sense, but it’s not evidence). And lobby your local La-Z-Boy dealer to sponsor an actual clinical trial, so I can really write about this!

Can strength training combat chronic back pain?

March 4th, 2010

This week’s Jockology column takes a look at some rather surprising research from the University of Alberta on back pain and lifting weights:

The question

My lower back is killing me. What can I do about it at the gym?

The answer

It’s the classic moving-day injury: You’re hoisting a dresser or grabbing one end of a sofa, then – bam! – you throw out your back.

So it may come as a surprise to hear that a promising solution for chronic lower-back pain, according to a series of recent studies from the University of Alberta, is lifting weights. A whole-body strengthening program dramatically outperforms aerobic exercise for those whose nagging back pain lingers for many months, the researchers say. And the more you lift, the better. [read on…]

There’s always a risk in reporting on research like this that it will get taken out of context. I should emphasize here this research applies to chronic (i.e. not immediately after you throw your back out) and non-specific (i.e. not related to a specific disc or muscle problem) back pain. And it’s not advocated strengthening the lower back itself — it’s strengthening other areas of the body, like the arms and legs, to take some load off the back.

For that matter, even that diagnosis remains controversial:

This one-size-fits-all approach has limitations, though, according to Stuart McGill, a professor of spine biomechanics at the University of Waterloo .

“There’s actually no such thing as non-specific back pain,” he says. “It just means you haven’t had an adequate assessment.”

Still, the results of the studies are interesting — and very much worth thinking about, in my opinion. They’re just not for everybody with back pain.