Physical fitness as it relates to low back pain in firefighters

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Varner, Raymond Dale
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Thesis (M.A.)
School of Physical Education
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Twelve apparently healthy male firemen were evaluated on five measures of physical fitness (muscular strength, muscular endurance, flexibility, body composition, and aerobic power) which was correlated with Isotechnologies diagnostic back machine the Isostation B-200 (range of motion, isometric strength, and maximum velocity). The B-200 simultaneously monitors torque output, range of motion, and velocity in the saggital, frontal, and transverse planes. Subjects were screened prior to participation for factors such that would contraindicate them from participating in the B-200 test or physical fitness evaluation. The twelve subjects overall composite ranking of physical fitness correlated positively (r=0.68) with the composite B-200 measures. The positive correlation supports previous findings that associated the individual components of physical fitness with low back pain. The best correlations of the individual fitness measures were that of muscular strength .51 vs. B-200 range of motion score, .64 vs. B-200 isometric strength score, and -.78 vs. the B-200 maximum velocity score. The body composition parameter of the physical fitness measures correlated to be -.72 vs. the B-200 range of motion score and -.78 vs. the B200 -maximum velocity score. The aerobic fitness measure did correlate well to the B200 measure of maximum velocity .62 but failed to correlate well with the other B-200 measures. All other correlations did not demonstrate any trends. One of the major problems with the present study was the small sample size due to the expense of testing. Thus with these simple, relatively inexpensive physical fitness measures one may identify an individual at high risk for developing back pain. While the present study was designed as a pilot for future research, the association between physical fitness and the B-200 has been demonstrated.