The information about how to test for and fix the problem of low back pain, muscle spasm, or cramps has been available since the 1940s.
What Is The Problem?
MOST LOW BACK PAIN is the result of weak ABDOMINALS and / or tight HAMSTRINGS (the muscles in the back of your upper leg.) Later I will give you some history, but for now, follow these directions to find out about the muscles that affect your own back, posture, and muscle pain.
The following six tests of key muscle groups represent the minimal performance necessary for healthy living. Because this is a MINIMUM test, you will need to be able to perform ALL SIX PARTS successfully. These tests are the result of a fifteen-year study on patients with low back pain. It is called the Kraus-Weber Test. See the history of this study and results further down in the text
- Position: Lie down on back, legs straight, feet held down, hands behind neck. Action: Roll to a sitting position once.
- Position: Lie down on back, knees bent, feet held down, hands behind neck. Action: Roll to sitting position once.
- Position: Lie on back, hands behind neck. Action: Lift both legs up 8-10 inches from floor, hold for a count of 10 seconds.
- Position: Lie face down. Place small pillow under hips. Lower body held down, hands behind neck. Action: Lift upper body off floor and hold for a count of 10 seconds.
- Position: Life face down. Place small pillow under hips. Upper body held down, head resting on hands. Action: Lift lower body from hips and hold for a count of 10 seconds.
- Position: Stand, feet together, knees straight. Action: Bend slowly forward and see how close you can come to touch the floor. If you can touch, hold for count of three. If you can’t touch, measure distance from finger to floor.
If you are NOT able to perform #1 and/or #2 you have 50% chance of having or getting low back pain. If you are NOT able to touch the floor as in #6 you have 50% chance of having or getting low back pain. If you are NOT able to perform #1, #2 and touch the floor as in #6 you WILL have or get low back pain.
The History of the Kraus-Weber Tests
The Kraus-Weber tests are the labor of more than fifteen years of study by two Austrian émigrés, Drs. Hans Kraus and Sonja Weber. In 1940 Dr. Weber founded the Posture Clinic at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in New York City and she asked her friend Dr. Kraus to join her there. The tests for Minimum Muscular Strength and Flexibility were NOT designed for healthy people, but to determine the minimum muscular effectiveness that persons suffering with various disabilities — for example, disabling backache or posture problems — must have to be able to overcome their difficulties.
It seemed that an ever increasing number of parents were noticing that their children were developing poor posture and brought them to the hospital for treatment. Kraus and Weber were surprised to find that after putting 200 children through a series of laborious and time consuming physical exams and X-rays over a period of four years that only 10% had spinal pathology and that 90% had no obvious cause. So why couldn’t they stand up straight? European doctor’s training included a lot muscle work so it occurred to them that perhaps this was a muscle problem.
They devised a battery of tests (the Kraus-Weber or K-W Test) to measure the strength and flexibility of key posture muscles: abdominal, abdominals and psoas together, psoas, upper and lower back and hamstrings: the muscles responsible for holding the body erect. Then they defined fitness for these muscles as the “minimum amount of strength and flexibility needed to support and move the body properly in everyday activities.” Next they devised therapeutic exercises designed to correct the muscular deficiencies which they identified in the K-W Test.
The test worked on everyone no matter the age, gender, weight, height, or demographics. The test applies to EVERYONE because it is self-correlating. It tests your own strength and flexibility against your own body weight and size. As long as you walk you must manage your weight and height with your key posture muscles. Therefore no norms are needed.
By 1944 they discerned a pattern. Children who did their K-W exercises, regardless of the original problem, no longer had poor posture. Those who didn’t do their exercises or stopped doing them didn’t improve. In other words, if they fixed the weak and inflexible muscles they fixed the poor posture.
With the ending of World War II, they began to notice another problem: the beginning of the epidemic of low back pain. And in 1946 Columbia Presbyterian formed the Back Clinic under the direction of Dr. Barbara Stimson who recruited a whole range of specialists including Kraus and Weber. The new specialty was called Rehabilitation Medicine. They were asked to explore possible links between poor posture, poor postural muscles, and back pain. After 3,000 patients, X-rays and physical exams, the results were identical to those at the Posture Clinic. Very few patients — about 18% — showed a pathological reason for their back pain while the majority — 82% — had no apparent reason for their back pain….although they did fail at least on of the K-W Tests. Also identical were the results: those that did their exercises had no back pain. Those that didn’t or stopped, kept their back pain.
QUESTION: if you were ones of those who went to the doctor with back pain, were you given a muscle test? Probably not. Did the doctor even put his / her had on you? Probably not. Did he / she hand you a little piece of paper with illegible handwriting on it? Probably.
So… If you don’t have back pain, do your exercises so that you won’t get back pain.
If you have back pain, do the exercises in order to get rid of the pain. Although you can get rid of the pain over time with JUST the exercises, you will find that it is much quicker if you will address the trigger points, as shown and described in Bonnie’s books, and then do the exercises. The Kraus-Weber Test along with the corrective exercises and the locations of the trigger points are included in Bonnie’s books, Pain Erasure, Myotherapy, and After Fifty Fitness.
How joyous to move without pain!
For more information about Bonnie Prudden®, Bonnie Prudden Myotherapy®, workshops, books, self-help tools, DVDs, educational videos, and blogs, visit www.bonnieprudden.com. Or call 520-529-3979 if you have questions or need help.
Enid Whittaker, Managing Director, Bonnie Prudden Myotherapy®