Research Review: Endurance Training Works Best

Your back and neck muscles are working against gravity from the moment you get out of bed in the morning until the moment you lie back down at night. Fortunately, spinal muscles are designed for endurance. Recent research indicates that only about 10% of maximum voluntary contraction (mvc) is necessary to create spinal joint stability during normal daily activities, while efforts of just 25% mvc provide maximal joint stability. Therefore, endurance (the ability to maintain a sustained submaximal contraction) is much more important than absolute muscle strength (the ability to generate force) in the prevention or rehabilitation of back injuries.

Research on rehab programs demonstrates that training for endurance has a significant impact on pain, function and disability. It is encouraging to note that endurance can be improved by 100-150% in as little as 8 weeks in patients with previous poor fitness levels.

Whereas most gym machines train muscles for strength, endurance can be trained without specialized equipment by performing low load, high rep exercises. And because endurance exercises are performed at a low mvc, muscles don’t need a day off to recover. In fact, best result come from performing the exercises once to twice daily.

Source: Slosberg, DC, MS Rehabilitation for Low Back and Neck Pain. Endurance Training and Muscle Fiber Types. Dynamic Chiropractic, April 2009

Dr. Pamela Wells is a Chiropractor serving the Sunnyvale California and the surrounding area including Cupertino, Mountain View and Santa Clara.