Back in 2004, when I was in the Army and based at Northwood HQ in Hertfordshire, several of my patients independently came to tell me that they’d found a shop called Back in Action, in Amersham, and that they had a machine called the Mobiliser which I ought to have a look at.
Initially I was sceptical but after the third such patient arrived, I decided to go and see what the fuss was about.
The Mobiliser is a 7-foot mat with knobbly rollers. You lie on your back on the mat, and the rollers work their way up and down your whole body, lifting each vertebra in turn when it gets to the spine, causing a combination of flexion, extension and shearing force and glide, as well as massaging the muscles and heating the torso. It feels great when you’re on it, but when you’re convincing the powers-that-be to buy new kit for the physio department, that’s rarely enough of an argument!
Luckily I had a fantastic Commanding Officer at the time, who was prepared to take a chance and spend the required £3,500 — as long as I could prove that the Mobiliser worked.
So I did exactly that. I looked at the manufacturers’ claims — that the Mobiliser improved flexibility and pain — and set up a small study to show whether using it regularly, caused those effects in my patients. Twelve of my patients signed up to take part, and the results were impressive, with a mean increase in low back extension of 32% and mean reduction in pain of 44% over four weeks.
Since then, I’ve continued to use the Mobiliser in my practice, and think it is a brilliant adjunct to physiotherapy for the majority of back pain patients. Some of my patients hire them for use at home, and use the Mobiliser on a daily basis. Others come into the clinic and use the Mobiliser before their treatment session, which is great because the Mobiliser provides a general warm-up for the spinal joints, and I can then focus my treatment on the remaining restrictions, which are likely to be the real cause of the problem. That’s not to say that it’s the answer for everyone — but for most people, it’s a great bit of kit.
If you’re interested in discussing using or hiring the Mobiliser, you can contact Back in Action – or email me if you’re currently having physio with me and want to talk about whether it would be suitable for you.
And if you’d like to read my original research, please e-mail me for a copy.