Restorative Exercise for Clinical Low Back Pain


The purpose of this study was to document the results from treatment of patients with chronic lower back pain (CLBP) using standardized testing and training protocols between two centers. Similar progressive, restorative exercise was applied to patients at two centers and the MedX Lumbar Extension Machine was used as an objective measure of low back function
and restorative exercise treatment in patients with CLBP. A further purpose of this study was to compare the results of the Health Status Survey (formerly SF-36) as an instrument of perceived disability.


A comparison of treatment for patients with CLBP was done at two centers using the same treatment protocols and outcome measures.Components of the two programs were standardized to include specific high-intensity back strengthening, general strengthening for major muscle groups, 15 to 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercises, and ranging exercises.  Emphasis of treatment was based on muscle function rather than pain symptom reports. Subjects were evaluated at the start of treatment, discharge from treatment, and at a 1 year follow up. Measures of efficacy were based on Short Form-36 scores, self-appraisal of improvement, and reuse of health care services after discharge. Overall response during the course of the program and at 1-year follow-up was similar between the two centers. Similar proportions of participants at each site demonstrated improvement in SF-36 scores, self-appraisal of improvement, and reuse of health care services. The study concluded that standardized protocols using specific strength and measurement equipment can achieve similar benefits at different sites.

Key Findings

  • Significant increases in back strength from intake to discharge at both sites for flexion and extension
  • Overall, 75% of Minneapolis and 82% of UCSD participants reported that they were “better” after discharge as opposed to “same” or “worse”

Keywords: Low back pain, restorative exercise, strengthening, treatment, MedX Lumbar Extension Machine

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