MedX Exercise Provides Superior Spinal Strengthening

MedX equipment was developed to provide superior isolation of the spinal musculature, that would allow for specific muscle testing and rehabilitation of the spine. Most of the research done on the training specifications, reliability, and validity of strength testing was completed by the University of Florida- Gainsville and University of SanDiego’s exercise physiology departments beginning in the early 1990’s.

MedX Validity

MedX equipment is specifically engineered to improve the isolation of the spinal musculature. Without the specific design of the machine components, other muscle groups may compensate which would lead to poor validity. Counterbalance systems off-set the affects of gravity when testing and exercising in the forward plane. The CAM system provides variable resistance that optimally loads the isolated muscle throughout the range of motion. Together the restraints, the counterbalance, and the CAM provide accurate isolation and strong validity for assessing the spinal musculature. Research provided by Graves, 1994 compared three different types of lumbar strengthening equipment including Nautilus, Cybex, and MedX and found superior isolation with MedX equipment.

MedX Reliability

Inter-reliability and intra-reliability has been established for each MedX machine.  Legget et al, 1991, and Graves et al, 1990, studied the repeatability of strength testing. They found high correlation coefficients for each machine at every testing angle (r= 0.90 – 0.97). Therefore, MedX testing is considered very accurate both between testers and examiners.

The MedX Advantage

As providers using MedX to treat neck and back pain, we have identified many advantages in using this equipment to strengthen the spine. MedX allows us to safely isolate the spinal muscles at a much greater intensity level without compromise to the disc.  This initiates remodeling and rebuilding the paraspinal muscle tissue and breaking the pain cycle.  Secondly, the therapists are able to deliver calculated doses of exercise which increases safety, efficacy, and the ability to gauge the patient’s progress. Without this isolation provided in the MedX, other muscle groups tend to compensate which make it impossible to improve the patient’s spinal health. Finally, the positive feedback to the patient is very motivating and rewarding, as patients can visually see their progress in strength and range of motion.

Cardiovascular Exercise and Your Back

Most people are aware of the many benefits that regular cardiovascular (CV) exercise provides for the health of our hearts and minds, as well as our overall health.  However, you may not know how CV exercise also benefits our spine! 

  • Our blood stream provides our bodies with the nutrition and oxygen that is vital for our cells to heal, including those that make up the various structures of our spine.  When we’re engaged in CV exercise, two things happen:  We increase both the rate of our circulation and our blood volume.  As a result, we get more blood to the spine.  The more blood we get to our spine, the more nutrition and oxygen, which speeds the healing process of our painful neck and/or back! 
  • CV exercise also helps to decrease pain by decreasing inflammation, by calming our overly sensitive nervous system, and by releasing more endorphins into our bloodstream.  These are our “feel good” chemicals, which not only improve our overall outlook on life, but also play a significant role in pain reduction.   
  • The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of CV exercise per week. While the gold standard is still 20 – 40 minutes, 3 – 5x/week; recent research has shown that 2, 10 minute bouts of exercise is just as beneficial as one, 20 minute bout.  Meaning, everything you do adds up! 
  • Examples of CV exercise include bicycling, walking briskly, swimming laps, or using a variety of CV machines such as an elliptical machine or treadmill.  CV exercise should be performed at an intensity level that causes you to break a light sweat and make your heart beat faster. 
  • So, pat yourself on the back every time you do CV exercise, knowing that you’re not only doing good things for your heart, but for your back as well!   

Exercise Guidelines for Rheumatoid Arthritis

One important thing that you can do to help manage your RA symptoms is to exercise! The right exercises can help relieve joint pain and build muscle strength.  There are three main groups of exercises you should incorporate into your fitness routine:  stretching, strength training and cardiovascular (CV) exercise.  Weight bearing exercise (such as walking and elliptical machine) is especially important to promote bone health and improve your functional abilities.  The following is a list of exercise guidelines:

  • Start slow – If you haven’t been exercising regularly, start with 5 – 10 minutes of light exercise and gradually increase time and intensity in order to build strength and avoid discomfort and injury.
  • Avoid exercising joints that are flared-up.  Choose an exercise that targets other parts of the body that you can perform comfortably. If several of your joints are inflamed or you’re not felling well, rest and drink plenty of water.  Once you feel better and are able to resume activity, listen to your body and talk to your doctor if you have any issues that don’t improve with rest.
  • Be sure to talk to your doctor before starting any new exercise program, and to find an exercise plan that will keep your arthritis under control so you can enjoy a more active lifestyle.
  • Using resistance band is a safe and gentle way to perform strength training exercises.  
  • Several small bouts of exercise during the day may help with decreasing fatigue level.
  • Stretch only through available ROM or slight stretch, especially in affected joints.
  • Exercise may be more comfortable later in the day if symptoms and stiffness are worse in the morning.
  • Monitor increase in symptoms vs. muscle soreness to determine exercise intensity.  Muscle soreness is normal with exercise especially when starting a new program. 
  • Most importantly, choose exercises that you enjoy most, and have fun!