Can Cervical and Lumbar Exercise Make Your Spine Stronger?

As we discussed in our recent post, Vertex Fitness is very excited to be offering some new equipment and programming. The MedX line is available at only a few physical training facilities throughout the world, and we’re proud to be one of those few. The incoming top-of-the-line equipment will allow us offer advanced cervical and lumbar exercise training to our clients, which has been shown to reduce the need for spinal surgery. In this post, we’ll take a look at the science behind cervical and lumbar exercise and demonstrate why the new equipment will be such a great addition to the high quality services already offered at Vertex Fitness.

Can Cervical and Lumbar Exercise Prevent the Need for Spinal Surgery?

In 1999, a study (Can-Spinal-Surgery-Be-Prevented-by-Aggressive-Strengthening-Exercise-A-Prospective-Study-of-Cervical-and-Lumbar-Patients) was published called “Can Spinal Surgery Be Prevented by Aggressive Strengthening Exercise? A Prospective Study of Cervical and Lumbar Patients”. The aim of this study was to determine whether patients recommended for spinal surgery could actually prevent the need for that surgery by participating in an “aggressive” strength-training program. The study was performed at a privately-owned neck and back pain clinic, staffed by physicians and physical therapists. The study took place over two and a half years, and required participants to take part in a ten-week strength training program. The exercise program consisted mainly of intensive, progressive resistance exercise of the lumbar or cervical spine, with follow-up 16 months after discharge. And the results? Of the sixty initial participants, 46 completed the program. Of those 46, 38 were available for follow up after the testing. Of those, only three participants ultimately received surgery after performing an intensive program of cervical and lumbar exercise.

The Costs of Spinal Care

Americans spend a huge amount of money on spinal surgery every year. At the time of the study, lower back disease was the third most common reason to receive surgery in the United States, and the US led the way with significantly more spine surgeries performed per capita than in any other industrialized nation. It’s no secret that back pain is big business in the US, and we’re getting a lot of surgery done to try to correct it. However, spinal surgery is known to have many less than optimal outcomes. So why are we treating surgery as the answer?

Cervical and Lumbar Exercise to Treat Back Pain

Under the study, exercise rehabilitation was performed on equipment (the same equipment coming to Vertex Fitness) that isolates the spinal musculature. This equipment is capable of targeting the lumbar extensors, cervical extensors and rotators, and the thoracic rotators. According to the study, “This equipment’s unique feature is its ability to quantify and develop spinal muscle strength through stabilization systems that isolate specific muscle groups. The efficacy of isometric testing and dynamic progressive resistance exercise using this equipment on the healthy, asymptomatic, and chronic back pain populations has been well documented.”

Patients performed cervical and lumbar exercise twice weekly for approximately one hour while being supervised by physical therapists. During sessions, the patients also performed aerobic exercise and training of other major muscle groups. They tested several measurements including static strength at predetermined points throughout the range of motion, dynamic endurance, and range of motion. They continued the program until either the patient was no longer making objective gains to spinal function, or the patient was pain free or nearly pain free. What they found was that the patients who participated in the program of cervical and lumbar exercise had much better outcomes, and did not require surgery nearly as often.

To learn more about strength training to treat back pain, contact us at Vertex Fitness to speak with one of our trainers.


Recommended Reading, “Crooked: Outwitting the Back Pain Industry and Getting on the Road to Recovery”


Request a complimentary first session at Vertex Fitness, Voted the BEST Personal Training Studio on the Main Line
Click HERE and we will schedule a session to try it yourself

Complimentary First Workout Session

Vertex Fitness call to action