Back strength helps prevent chronic pain

I recently had a discussion with a Physical Therapist friend, in which I expressed an interest in the types of injuries she treats regularly within her practice.

Without taking much time to respond, she replied “spinal pain”, indicating that it was that subset of the population that she sees frequently.

The “aching back” plagues millions of people.  In fact so many, that according to the American Chiropractic Association, one-half of all individuals in the working population complain about back pain symptoms each year.

Additionally, back pain ranks second only to respiratory infections as the reason people see their physicians on a yearly basis.  It also leads as one of the most common causes of missed work.   In fact, back pain is so prevalent that Americans spend over $50 billion each year on back pain.  In a lifetime, over 80% of all people will experience some form or another of  back pain.

The precision of back anatomy is almost like that of a well constructed Swiss watch.  The tolerances of the various structures throughout the spine that must move against one another (articulate) are highly precise and require perfect alignment.  In the event that one of those structures becomes misaligned, wears down, suffers traumatic movement of any kind, or simply becomes overused a downward spiral of related events can occur.

In between each bony segment of the spine (vertebral body) exists a “pad” or shock-absorber of tough fibrous material called the disc which has a tough outer ring (annulus) and a jelly-like inner substance (nucleus pulposus).

The bottom line is that an entire host of problems can often occur when in the event this disc herniates or suddenly protrudes outside area of each vertebrae it separates.  When the disc herniates or bulges, it can protrude out of it’s defined area and push on other nerves traveling along the spinal cord. When this happens, pain can be either acute and unpredictable or chronic, making sitting and walking equally uncomfortable.

One of the best things a person can do to practice good back care is to strengthen the muscles of both the abdomen and the pack.  Together, these muscle groups help absorb shock, distribute load and take significant pressure off the various spinal structures.

Picture the Fremont Bridge as an example. The bridge itself acts more like the spine without good musculature around it, however the cables that are also used to suspend that bridge, take on and distribute a significant amount of that load relieving the segments of the bridge from taking on too much stress.

Through the proper kind of fitness training, the muscles that I refer to as “360 degrees” around your spine can constrict or clamp around the various segments of your spine, and as a result, stabilize or compress around those moving parts.

All to frequently, the word “core” has been interpreted to me stomach muscles and when talking about spinal stability, nothing could be further from the truth.  Instead, “core” training should encompass stressing all the muscles that surround the spine and when conditioned properly, ultimately “shrink wrap” themselves around the spines moving segments.

As you become more familiar with all the exercises that can work the core, you will also become more aware of how many of those day-to-day movements  of daily living put our spines to the test.  It is for that reason, that no work-out should be considered complete, until the core has been included in your day at the gym.

Bill Victor is the owner of Victor Fitness and Flashpoint Athletic Speed & Agility Specialists.  He can be reached at and online at or .


Bill Victor

Bill Victor, M.S. Exercise Science is the President of Victor Fitness and Performance Training. He and his team of trainers are dedicated to bringing the fitness experience, and the self-confidence that comes with it, to the citizens of Clark County. He can be reached through or his email,

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