Exercise prescriptions helpful for people with chronic back pain
Your next prescription may not entail taking any pills at all. Dr. Paul Bruno DC, PhD, Canadian Chiropractic Research Foundation (CCRF) Chair in Neuromusculoskeletal Health at the University of Regina is conducting research into rehabilitative exercise strategies for people with back pain. Currently, his team is utilizing motion capture technology to record specific body movements to identify actions that are common in people with back pain. The actions of the test subject are mapped to a 3D model on the computer for analysis and comparison with other human models. Electromyography or EMG, is also used in the lab to record muscle activity in conjunction with the motion capture data.
By merging these tools, scientists like Dr. Bruno can identify the most efficient or beneficial way to perform common movements that we do so often in our everyday lives: sitting, walking or picking up an object to name a few. Through analysis, patterns often emerge that, after further study, may provide treatment recommendations to support your family chiropractor with identifying the most successful treatments. Your doctor may ask you to mimic these tasks in their office and if your movement pattern is notably different from the “ideal” way to perform the activity, it could suggest that an imbalance is present. Simply put, this research helps us to better understand what treatments and exercises are more likely to work for certain people and why.
There is a significant amount of research that supports the efficacy of various chiropractic treatments and doctors witness the results of treatment in their offices on a daily basis. Most people who visit their family chiropractor will experience improvement in pain, tension and/or mobility, but we also need to recognize that there are some groups of individuals who do not benefit or find equal benefit from other modalities.
For example, most clinical guidelines suggest that spinal manipulation is an effective treatment for patients with acute back pain. If the condition is chronic, however, treatment alone may not solve the problem. Habits and activities in the individual’s life may be exacerbating their symptoms if they are lifting incorrectly, sit for too long at a desk, have terrible posture or conduct repetitive movements. This is where exercise therapy can come into play. Through a tailored exercise protocol, people suffering with back pain can learn to correct improper body mechanics and strengthen weak muscles to mitigate their risk of recurrence.
It’s not just as simple as saying “do more exercise” either. Being physically active can sometimes give the illusion of good health but it is important to ensure you are doing the activity correctly and safely. If you suffer the same injuries over and over, there is a good chance a modification to your technique or approach can benefit you in the long run.