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How to Do McKenzie Positions at Home to Relieve Back Pain

Learn McKenzie positions you can do at home from physical therapist Eric Sampson in this Howcast video.


A lot of time times in physical therapy clinics the patients are coming in with severe or moderate lower back discomfort. And it's to the point where exercises are not appropriate or indicated until they can calm down some of the muscle spasms and some of the chemical receptors that are all fired up in the back.

So, rather than provide exercises on that first visit sometimes what's better is to just put them in the proper positions to allow the tissue to heal.

And one of the classic ones is to have the patient lie on their stomach while propping up on their elbows which is called prone on elbows. So, basically it's not an exercise, per se. But, just by lying on your your stomach and lying up on your elbows sustained you will allow the tissue to, sort of, heal in this position.

It's a neutral position. The lordosis of the lumbar spine is maintained. So, you're going to have some better healing in this position. Take some of the pressure off the disks.

The key with with this position or exercise is to do it for about five to ten minutes and then get up and resume your life. And then maybe do it a second or a third time later in the day or at home later that night to continue this, sort of, recovery process. Once they've accomplished this goal maybe by the next day they're moving on to more of a stretching program.

This also a very good position for putting an ice pack on your back if you need an ice pack. And often called the magazine position because patients can just grab a magazine and read for about ten minutes. And then basically get up as they're supposed to.

People do it at the beach often for instance. They lie on their stomach. But it's called the prone on elbows. McKenzie's position of choice for acute or moderate back pain.

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