By Rita La Rosa Loud, B.S.

If you are among the 50% to 80% of adults who experience occasional low back pain, you were likely told that resistance exercise is effective for alleviating low back pain and discomfort. Puzzled, you question, “Why, then, is my back still aching after training on the back machine at my gym?” Perhaps you were training in an exercise range that did not provide enough strength improvement in your lower back.

For example, in a 1993 study at University of Florida Medical School, weak low back muscles were, in fact, found to be a contributor to low back pain. However, the study revealed that to reduce low back pain, isolate the target muscle (lumbar spine), and increase low back strength, performing full-range (pain-free) joint movement training is essential (see April 2022 article for study details).
After 12 weeks of strengthening the lower back using full range of motion, almost all the patients reported significantly less back pain. Properly strengthening the entire musculoskeletal system is imperative to preserve joint integrity, prevent muscle imbalances, and reduce the risk of injuries. Plus, resistance training on well-designed strength equipment is why we use and recommend the Nautilus One Low Back strength machine.

Senior-Friendly Strength Equipment
Strengthening back equipment in most gyms often emphasizes the hip extensors, whereas the Nautilus low back machine targets the intended low back (erector spinae) extensor muscles. Nautilus machines are constructed based upon the human body biomechanics for each movement, which involves a precise strength curve, and range of motion by means of a CAM. The oval-shaped CAM mechanically varies the resistance throughout the movement range and muscle force patterns. In other words, our senior participants experience a better quality match of muscle and resistance force throughout each exercise movement.
Another unique feature appreciated by our senior population is the meticulously designed seat and back rest pads that safeguard proper body alignment and support while performing their resistance exercises.

Back pain, per the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, is continuous, unrelenting, aching pain, or sudden, intense pain that strikes any place on the back abruptly or gradually. Unsurprisingly, sedentary, underfit seniors (especially those 75 and older) are at greater risk of developing chronic back pain. Thankfully, research has shown that strength training is a highly effective intervention for relieving and reducing musculoskeletal issues; case in point, low-back pain (Study Summaries, April 2022 Issue).

Do you suffer from low back problems?
Consider the Wayne Westcott, Ph.D. Center for Health and Fitness supervised group strength, endurance, and flexibility program at Quincy College, Presidents Place, 1250 Hancock St., Quincy. To book a tour, free session, or register, call 617-405-5978. Street parking is available, and a parking garage is next to the building.

About the Author: Rita La Rosa Loud holds a B.S. in Exercise Physiology with additional education in Sports Medicine and Athletic Training. She is NASM Certified and has been actively involved in the fitness industry for more than 35 years. She is also an author and writes fitness-related articles for various publications. Currently, she is a fitness researcher and directs the Wayne Westcott, Ph.D. Center for Health and Fitness at Quincy College. She can be reached at 617-405-5978.