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Three Important Factors in Successfully Recovering from Chronic Back Pain

Part 3: Reconditioning the Back Muscles

In this series about chronic back pain I am addressing what I feel are the three key components to a successful recovery from chronic back pain here at Muscle IQ.  Part 1 addressed the need to identify and treat the fibrotic changes (or fascial distortions) in the low back.  Part 2 discussed the need to restore normal muscle response.  In this blog, Part 3, I will discuss the need for reconditioning the back muscles.  

Reconditioning the Back Muscles

Everyone who has chronic low back pain will have deconditioned muscles.  Muscle deconditioning occurs when muscles are not used as much as they should be or as often as they had been previously.  The most common example in cases with chronic low back pain is when normal activities are avoided because of pain.  Prolonged decreased activity leads to deconditioned muscles.  Pain also seems to play a role in deconditioning.  What makes deconditioned muscles different from healthy muscles?  My goal is to write things in a way that can be easily understood, even when the subject I am writing about is complicated.  I like reading studies that are written in “Research Speak” and translate them into normal English.

In a recent study, scientists state:

“Muscular disuse is defined as the response to decreased usage, leading to a reductive remodeling of the tissue(1), accompanied with a shift from slow to fast myosin isoforms muscle phenotype(2), markedly decreased force output(3) and fatigue resistance(4), lower neural activation(5), reduced metabolic supply due to capillary rarefaction(6), and a diminished local oxidative capacity.(7)”

So what does this mean in normal English?

Deconditioned muscles have the following problems:

  1. The normal tissue repair speed is slower

  2. The actual muscle fibers switch from one type to another;  from “slow twitch” to “fast twitch”.  Slow twitch muscle fibers are necessary for posture and protection.  Deconditioned muscles are less protective against new injury.

  3. The muscle is less powerful.

  4. The muscle fatigues faster.

  5. Decreased nerve communication between the muscle and the nervous system, making the muscle not contract as fully.

  6. Decreased blood flow inside the muscle.  Blood brings the nutrients to the muscle tissues that are needed for continued work and repair processes.

  7. The deconditioned muscle cannot process oxygen as efficiently.

In a patient with chronic low back pain it is vitally important to understand that the back muscles are not normal.  They will not respond the same way to normal exercise routines that someone would do at a regular gym or following an exercise video at home.  You need a program specifically developed for the current condition of your back muscles.  The back needs a thorough test to see the current force capabilities of each back muscle.

Back Muscle Strength Testing

At Muscle IQ we have state-of-the-art medical exercise machines that you will not find anywhere else in Utah County.  Each of our chronic back pain patients receives a thorough strength test of their back muscles using the David Spine Concept machines.  (Get more details at (

This testing allows us to fine tune a specific exercise routine for chronic back pain patients that provides the proper weights, repetitions, and movements in a safe and controlled position that is exactly what is needed for Reconditioning the Back Muscles.  The weights need to be light.  The exercise needs to be high repetition.  The movement needs to be pain-free.  These are the best conditions for achieving the change that is needed.  This is what is needed to help modify the deconditioned muscle into healthy muscle.  This change takes time.  The muscle needs to be worked for several weeks in this manner in order to eliminate the 7 factors above that describe a chronic back pain muscle.

This is very important.  This is why many (if not most) chronic back pain patients never fully recover.  The pain returns.  The problem comes back.  It takes skilled care, in a professional environment, with the right treatments and the right exercises to have any chance of solving the chronic back pain problem.  

At Muscle IQ we provide a unique approach to solving the chronic back pain problem:

  • Treat the Fibrotic Changes (Fascial Distortions) in the low back.

  • Restore Normal Muscle Response

  • Recondition the Back Muscles

If you, or someone you know, has been living with chronic back pain now is the time to give Muscle IQ a call.  801-310-0851

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