Book review by Rachel Grunwell

Book title: McKenzie Method:  Treat Your Own Back – by Robin McKenzie

This post is sponsored by The McKenzie Method company #AD

If you have ever experienced back pain, you’d be interested in this helpful easy-to-read book…

This can empower you on how to avoid or manage self-care for your back.

This book is penned by the late Kiwi physiotherapist Robin McKenzie, who is renowned for developing the McKenzie method to help people self-manage low back pain.

An acronym for the McKenzie method is mechanical diagnosis and therapy (MDT). McKenzie passed away in 2013. But his work lives on. Medical professionals have used his method worldwide for decades and continue to do so.

This 120-page book distils myths about acute back pain, lists common causes, and then details exercises and remedies on how to manage symptoms. 

The book is short and easy to read (ie not too much medical or technical jargon). I like that anyone can pick this book up and read it with ease. The exercises are also easily explained and not too difficult to do. Many of them are yoga poses I teach as a yoga teacher, but they go by different names in the book.

The book shows you strategies on how to put your back “in” too if you have put it “out”. It also advises around how to try and avoid a recurrence.

McKenzie writes in the book that back pain affects nearly everyone at some stage and is a common ailment. 

He writes: “It is often described as fibrositis, slipped disc, lumbago, arthritis in the back or rheumatism and, when it causes pain extending into the leg, sciatica.”

Some common causes of lower back pain include sitting for a long time in a poor, flexed rounded position. You know, that slumped in a chair kind of position. Or prolonged forward bending (take note: gardeners, or anyone using a poor lifting technique when picking something up!)

McKenzie writes that when pains of postural origin are first felt they can be easily eliminated merely by correcting your posture.

If uncorrected, the habitual poor posture can cause changes to the structure and shape of the joints. Excessive wear can occur, loss of elasticity resulting in premature aging of the joints etc.

A key point of the book is teaching readers the importance around how to keep natural posture ie when you stand, there’s a natural inward curve in the small of the lower back just above the pelvis (called lumbar lordosis). The lordosis is lost whenever the low back is rounded ie sitting hunched over and bending forwards. It becomes an issue if the lordosis is lost for long periods.

McKenzie explains in the book that unless you do exercises to restore normal flexibility, your healed tissue can produce back pain or stiffness – possibly for years. The pain can then escalate if scar tissue forms and restricts movement and you feel pain whenever you stretch…

I found it interesting in the book that lots of people blame sports or vigorous activities for back pain. However, McKenzie writes that in fact often it is after the activity when people sit, slouch or collapse for long periods in a chair. So, it’s not the sport, but often the posture we do post activities.

Resting or sleeping in some positions can also fuel back discomfort. Even surface (a bad mattress) can be a problem.

The book helps guides readers through stretches to help remedy their discomfort – and what to do if pain persists.

There are stretches and varied advice in the book to combat different issues and there are many areas you can feel the source of the back pain. He shares tips on what to do to handle niggles, all the way up to acute back pain. There’s advice on when to apply certain exercises also in an emergency scenario if you get a sudden onset of acute pain…

Note. If pain persists, please seek the advice of a qualified McKenzie physio to get expert advice.

7 Exercises For Back Pain:

Exercise 1. Lying face down.
Exercise 2. Lying face down in extension.
Exercise 3. Extension in lying.
Exercise 4. Extension in standing.
Exercise 5. Flexion in lying.
Exercise 6. Flexion in sitting.
Exercise 7. Flexion in standing.
To find out more about the McKenzie method click HERE

Blog penned by Rachel Grunwell: Qualified coach, yoga + meditation teacher, wellness speaker and author of the book Balance: Food, Health + Happiness. Follow Rachel on Instagram or her business Facebook page