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Why aren’t your strengthening exercises helping to fight your back pain?

by Dr Matt Kenny,

Strong muscles help protect us and allow us to live more actively. So is there ever a situation where strengthening may not be helpful for back pain? You may be surprised to know that the answer is yes!

I see new patients every week that have been struggling with chronic back pain in spite of performing regular lower back strengthening. They report often feeling worse and of course are very frustrated. The reason this occurs is not because strengthening exercises are bad but rather that there is a problem with underlying structures, the vertebrae. Thus, the back muscles surrounding the spine are getting stronger while the problem remains uncorrected.

As an analogy, take the example of a knee surgery. Would your orthopedic surgeon send you to a physical therapist to make your leg and knee stronger before the surgery? No, the doctor would first perform the surgery to fix the underlying problem and then have you strengthen your muscles around it. Many people with back pain never consider the underlying causes of their pain and instead it worsens with lower back and core strengthening.

If strengthening your back has led to more pain than it is a sign that your problem is not muscular. The problem could be as simple as a misalignment but especially if the issue is more complicated, than exercises alone aren’t enough to alleviate the pain. If you’re suffering from unresolved lower back pain in spite of your best efforts I would urge you to set up an initial appointment. We offer an internet special of $69 which includes a comprehensive initial examination, x-ray, computerized nerve test and an adjustment (if we feel chiropractic will benefit your condition) so that your problem can be diagnosed and we can start helping you.

If you’re interested in scheduling an appointment you may do so online through our website (, through Facebook or by calling (303) 347-9906.

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