We know how horrid it can be dealing with low back pain, it’s difficult to do even the everyday things like carrying shopping, getting in and out of a chair! We hope this short set of exercises can help you find a bit of relief or better yet, prevent it from happening in the first place!
The McKenzie Method
Robin McKenzie was a physical therapist born in Auckland, New Zealand. He was internationally recognised for his contributions towards musculoskeletal treatment and is an authority figure in the diagnosis and treatment of low back pain.
McKenzie went on to formulate ‘The McKenzie Method’, focusing on evaluating and treating people with low back pain caused by disc herniation; commonly referred to as a “slipped disc”. While this is incorrect terminology, it is widely used by medical professionals in conversation with patients because it is easier to accept and understand.
If you have had disc problems, it is highly likely you went on to experience pain down the back of your legs and possibly as far as the base of your foot. If pain travels away from your back, it is known as peripheralisation. The goal of these 4 exercises proposed by McKenzie aim to Centralise pain (i.e. bring pain back up to the centre) and eventually abolish pain entirely.
These exercises are NOT designed to strengthen the muscles in your back. They are designed specifically to target the discs and help you regain movement. This method of treatment is entirely led by your symptoms. You should not progress onto the next exercise until your symptoms begin to move back up your leg. If you have previously experienced pain from disc problems or are experiencing similar pain currently, give these a go!
If you have pain and/or numbness down both legs, please do not attempt these exercises and seek immediate medical advice.
1. Lying Face Down
Take deep breaths and relax completely around your low back, hips and legs for 2 – 3 minutes. Repeat 6-8 times per day
This exercise is also recommended in severe episodes of pain as a resting position / emergency position
2. Lying Face Down in Extension
Begin with exercise 1
Slowly place your elbows under your shoulders and press up into an extended position
Do not go into pain! Stay in this position for 2-3 minutes. Attempt this position at least once following exercise 1. Only do so if pain has reduced from lying face down.
3. Extension in Lying (with a sag)
Progression from extension on elbow to extension on hands
Take a deep breath in and press up as far as your body permits whilst keeping your groin on the floor
When you reach your limit, breath out and allow your low back to sag and tour belly button to fall towards the floor (sag is the most important part!
Maintain for 1-2 seconds and lower yourself down. If pain is reducing, hold for longer.
Attempt to extend a little more each time.
4. Extension in Standing
Stand upright with feet slightly apart and place your hands on the small of your back
Bend backwards as far as you can, using your hands as a pivot point.
It is important that you keep knees straight!
Maintain for 1-2 seconds and return to standing
*When seated for long periods, this exercise is recommended as a preventative measure before pain begins.
“For the rest of your life, whether or not you have back pain, good postural habits are essential to prevent the recurrence of your problems” – Robin McKenzie
We hope these have been useful, remember to protect yourself by looking after your body!
Book in with one of our experts for postural advice and treatment of muscular restrictions.