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Introduction to McKenzie Exercises

The McKenzie Method assesses back pain and offers specific exercises for particular issues.

McKenzie exercises are back exercises that are designed to ease the pain of lower back pain, leg pain or sciatica. McKenzie therapy standardizes the assessment that helps professionals decide what kind of back exercises are most suitable for a particular situation. They classify spinal concerns so that they can be treated in the most appropriate manner.

The McKenzie Method requires patients to go through a set of activities that will gauge their pain response. This helps determine which movements cause pain.  Part of the assessment includes a physical exam that helps to gauge the patient’s degree of impairment. The physical exam will also help identify red flags that could impair exercise programs for treatment.


There are three classifications that are assigned after the physical assessment has been completed:

Dysfunction: Shortened tissues due to scarring causing pain.

Postural: Incorrect posture and stress of soft tissues result in pain.

Derangement: When there are fluid imbalances in the discs, the changing position of the vertebrae causes the pain.


One of the most common of the McKenzie exercises is the back extension. This is a simple exercise and if done properly can strengthen your lower back muscles. It is also effective for stretching them out. This back exercise allows the discs of the spine to shift away from nerve roots. You should feel not pain at all with this exercise.

Lie on your stomach with your hands flat on the floor on either side of your shoulders.  Keep your pelvis flat to the floor and push up with your hand. Push up until you have reached a comfortable stretch and hold it for 8-10 seconds at a time. Do 8-12 repetitions.

Consult a Professional

There are other McKenzie exercises that can be done but it is best to consult a professional to get a proper assessment. Back exercises can be very effective in eliminating back pain but only if they are implemented into your daily life. If you do back exercises and then continue to bend and move wrong, the pain will continue.

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The services and information on this site are for informational purposes only and do not constitute medical advice or a recommendation for your specific condition or situation. Consult your physician before you begin any exercise, nutrition, diet, or weight loss program or other change in your lifestyle.