There is no simple cure for back pain. The spine itself is such a complex part of our anatomy that there’s rarely one fix for the wide range of aches and pains that bring patients to our clinic.

Treatments that offer therapeutic pain relief are only part of the picture of a pain-free life. After relief from the pain of injury or accident has subsided, there are additional steps to restore and maintain a healthy spine. In addition to the treatments we offer for acute and chronic back and neck pain, we offer our patients advice and instruction on using the McKenzie Method for controlling back pain and developing long-term spine health.

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The McKenzie Method

In the 1960’s a New Zealand Physical Therapist named Robin McKenzie noted that extending the spine could provide significant pain relief to certain patients. He developed a series of maneuvers and exercises to help patients take a more active role in their continued health.

The long-term goal of the McKenzie Method is to teach patients suffering from neck pain and/or back pain how to treat themselves and manage pain throughout their lives using exercise and other strategies. Other goals include:

  • Reduce pain quickly
  • Return to normal functioning in daily activities
  • Minimize the risk of recurring pain (avoid painful postures and movements)
  • Minimize the number of return visits to the spine specialist

McKenzie’s exercises for back pain are a series of progressive positions. If your back pain is especially acute, you may not be able to work through all stages straight away. In this case work through as many stages as you can and only progress further as your pain subsides. The stages of McKenzie’s exercises are prone lying, prone lying while resting on elbows, prone push-ups, progressive extension using pillows and standing extension. Numerous variations of the McKenzie sequence exist which add or remove stages according to interpretation of the original sequence.

Some McKenzie Exercises for Spine Health

The following diagrams provide examples of some basic McKenzie exercises that can be done to help allay and prevent pain symptoms. This general information is not intended to diagnose any medical condition or to replace your healthcare professional. SpineOne’s Therapists and McKenzie Specialists are available to help you design an appropriate exercise routine.

Exercise 1 – Lying Face Down

Exercise 2 – Lying Face Down in Extension

Exercise 3 – Extension in Lying

Exercise 4 – Extension in Standing

McKenzie Extension in Standing
McKenzie Extension in Standing

Exercise 5 – Flexion in Lying

McKenzie Flexion in Lying
McKenzie Flexion in Lying
McKenzie Flexion in Lying

Exercise 6 – Flexion in Sitting

Exercise 7 – Flexion in Standing

McKenzie Flexion in Sitting
McKenzie Flexion in Standing

McKenzie’s exercises are designed to reposition any displaced intervertebral discs. This is initially done by using gravity to draw the discs back into the spine and then actively to consolidate the effect of gravity. To facilitate disc movement, you must relax as much as possible when performing the exercises and maintain relaxed and even breathing for the duration of the exercise.

The entire range of diagnostic and therapeutic routines offered by the McKenzie Method can be taught and facilitated by the specialists and resources available in our clinic. If you’d like to learn more about how these stretches and exercises can help you maintain a pain-free life, come in and see us!