Back conditions are a significant burden of health loss across the population. The New Zealand Burden of Diseases, Injuries and Risk Factors Study, 2006-2016 ranked Low Back Pain (LBP) as the third biggest contributor to health loss in New Zealand, as measured in disability adjusted life years (DALYs). One DALY is equivalent to loss of one year of healthy life. It estimated that back disorders were associated with 27,112 DALYs in the New Zealand population in 2006 and that 10% of the New Zealand population, or around 437,000 people, had a back condition.

Costs associated with LBP that are covered by Vote:Health (the primary source of funding for New Zealand's health and disability system) are estimated to be about $215 million per year and more than $325 million per year when ACC costs are included.

Back pain is a big, expensive problem!


A proven solution to a very old problem.

Adjacent to BodyTech Gym, an all-new clinical exercise service opened in December. Taking pride of place in this state-of-the-art ExerScience Clinic will be a MedX Medical Lumbar Extensor machine. The effectiveness of this machine for treating issues stemming from the lumbar spine region, especially chronic pain, has been endorsed by research from orthopaedic specialists and multiple universities around the world for more than two decades, plus in excess of 70 published articles in peer reviewed journals. You can find many of them here:

Over the last few weeks a select number of BodyTech staff and The ExerScience Clinic’s clinical exercise physiologists (CEPs) have been receiving comprehensive training on the use of this highly specialised medical machine from expert clinician Byron Holmes. They can now safely test and prescribe specific lower back strength exercises for chronic back pain sufferers, or for those who simply want to understand how they stand in terms of having a strong and resilient lower back.

Byron has a Masters Degree in Exercise Physiology and Sports Science from the University of Florida, in which he focused on specific testing for spinal evaluation and exercise. He first started working for Chairman and inventor of MedX, Arthur Jones, in 1989 after finishing his thesis. His role was to train chiropractors, physical therapists and even orthopaedic specialists throughout the USA who had bought the MedX Medical Lumbar Extensor machine and wanted to start a rehabilitation programme to help people with chronic lower back pain.

Bryon was also co-director and architect of a compressive spinal rehabilitation and clinical certification programme while at the University of California Department of Orthopaedics.   

He speaks enthusiastically about the medical research that shows that spinal strengthening exercises using the MedX Medical Lumbar Extensor machine help people feel better and get back on their feet, even after multiple failed attempts at other forms of treatment. He says published clinical research shows that 76 percent of people with chronic lower back pain feel better following active rehabilitation utilising the machine.

“You are not treating a diagnosis but treating the dysfunction that occurs from the pain. We restore strength and range of motion by isolating the muscles surrounding the lumbar spine and strengthening them through progressive resistance exercise” says Bryon. “There are also other benefits from helping to reduce back pain - in some cases it has prevented the need for back surgery, and in others it’s been proven to improve a concomitant decrease in psychological distress - specifically anxiety and depression - that’s often associated with sufferers of back pain.”   

So what does treatment involve?

First of all you sit into the MedX Lumbar Extensor machine and are fastened in by a CEP using its patented restraint system. Restraints are required because testing the strength of the muscles that extend your lumbar spine requires total isolation - if your hips and bottom are free to move during the test, the measured level of strength will be the result of forces produced by your buttock and hamstring muscles, as well as the muscles of your lower back. This would reveal little about the true strength of your lower back muscles.

Your test results are recorded on a computer and compared to normative data; that is, strength of other tested subjects of a similar age and gender. Based on this, a customised programme is designed for you where you get restrained in the same machine and do a single set of back extension exercises through a pain free range of motion.

In a nutshell, MedX has shown to yield 76% good to excellent results for chronic lower back pain sufferers. Good results are described as “I still have a minute amount pain, but I can cope now and get on with my life.” Excellent results being “I am completely rid of my pain.” One year later, up to 94% of patients with these results reported maintaining their improvements.i

It’s that simple to restore strength and range of motion to your spine, and eliminate or, at the minimum, reduce chronic back pain.

Due to high demand, The ExerScience Clinic’s special offer of 50% off the retail price of a MedX Lumbar Extensor test for BodyTech members has been extended to 31st March 2017.

Train smart
Peter Rana

1 The Clinical Effects of Intensive, Specific Exercise on Chronic Low Back Pain: Controlled Study of 895 Consecutive Patients with 1-Year Follow-up. Lead Author, Brian W. Nelson, MD