7 Exercises for Back Pain

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

7 New Lifestyle Books

By Rachel Grunwell

A version of this column ran as my weekly wellness column in Feb 2020 for Indulge magazine.

I never put my nose in other people’s business. I keep it instead in good books.

I love to expand my mind and challenge my thinking. Books transport me to different worlds. I have hundreds of books in my office. I re-read lots of them. Here are some new lifestyle books that are pretty rad. They’re all really different, but offer a great read in their niche:

So You’re Having a Teenager. An A-Z of Adolescence by Sarah MacDonald and Cathy Wilcox

Help! I will soon have two teenagers in my house. And I know how embarrassing I am already for only existing chuckle! I laughed lots through this book (so loud that I sometimes snorted). It’s a real view ie the authors tell readers that when it comes to teenagers, “your approval counts. A bit. A tiny bit.” I love ‘M’ which stands for:

Mumble, monosyllabic, moodiness, meltdowns, memes, masturbation, marks, money, mirror, mental illness. If you have a teen, get this.

Human Kindness – Renee Hollis (ED)

This features positive stories about human kindness. It’s stories from people all aged over 60-years including six Kiwis.

The Art of Rest by Claudia Hammond

Perfect life balance is a personal thing. This book is helpful for those who wish to slow down – and want ideas on how to be happier. It’s for those who can handle sitting alone with their own thoughts.

Lab Rats by Dan Lyons

This book entertains around how the working world has changed – for the worse. ie from management fads to enforced fun to unpaid internships. Dan gives advice on surviving (with your sanity).

Michael Rosen’s Book of Play

101 ideas on how to play. This is helpful for parents wanting to get their kids off computer screens. I’ve earmarked the page on how to make a garden in a bottle to do soon with the kids…

Create Your Own Midlife Crisis by Marie Phillips

This book is for those contemplating a tattoo, divorce, affair or fast car… This book had me laughing so much it hurt. You flick through to the page depending on what way your life might turn. You can glimpse into an imagined future on how things might turn out in a very real kind of way. I like this book’s fun take on a serious subject. Midlife crisis points are times to either laugh or cry. This book will help you laugh more.

Fucking Good Manners by Simon Griffin

Don’t buy this book if you hate swearing. But if you don’t mind the word that rhymes with “duck”, then you will dig this. It’s hilarious. It’s a how-to-guide on how to behave at the cinemas, while driving, to having basic manners full stop.

 Find out more about Rachel’s coaching and wellness workshops services, public speaking engagements and her book Balance: Food, Health and Happiness via inspiredhealth.co.nz  Instagram @rachelgrunwell

Book Review: The French Art of Not Giving a Fuck

french art

By Rachel Grunwell: Good magazine’s wellness columnist & smoothie chick. Multi-Marathoner. Yoga Teacher. Blogger & Influencer. 

Follow InspiredHealth’s Facebook page & Instagram for wellbeing inspiration & awesome giveaways . Our last comp was for a Fitbit worth $500!

The French Art of Not Giving a Fuck (published by Allen & Unwin)

I’m constantly reading health, fitness, nutrition and wellness books. It’s part of my job as a magazine columnist and professional blogger. I want to be up with what’s new and all the new trends and , of course, the latest science. I’m a bit of a geek because I really love it.

This book – The French Art of Not Giving a Fuck by Fabrice Midal – is going near the top of my list of cool wellness books this year.

This is full of simple secrets to true happiness, the French way.

It’s about how to put the breaks on all the demands and “must dos’ in your life and not give a fuck about the things that you really don’t give a fuck about. Instead, this book gives you permission to walk away from the things that don’t make us happy.

We torture ourselves with how we should be and what we should be doing. But instead we should make room in our lives for the things and people that light us up and really matter. 

Midal is one of the world’s leading teachers of meditation and mindfulness – really trendy things to do to de-stress these days. But incredibly, he has a chapter headed ‘Fuck Meditating’. 

Instead  he encourages us to “just be” and be human and let go of the too-much, too-busy stuff. Instead meditation is just a form of breathing “without guidelines or sanctions”.

“And therein lies its healing power,” he writes.

Other headlines: Fuck being calm, Fuck obeying, Fuck being wise, Fuck holding yourself back, Fuck being passive, Fuck being conscious, Fuck wanting to be perfect, Fuck trying to understand everything…

Here’s a cool fitness book featured on instagram recently. Click HERE






2 New Cool Kiwi Cookbooks – both health-inspired, but not saintly

two cook books smaller size

By Rachel Grunwell

Two new Kiwi recipe books are based around a growing trend that we should quit the guilt around food (particularly around depravation and strict rules) and instead enjoy delicious flavour-filled food and just simply aim for balanced living. You know, make lots of healthy choices, but enjoy treats too now and again. I call this “balanced living”.

Wholehearted – Inspiring Real Food for Every Day is by Kelly Gibney – a food writer, stylist and photographer. There are 12 recipes in here involving the on-trend ingredient Turmeric. There’s lots of “simple, delicious, home-cooked meals”. And it’s “a flavour-first approach to wholefoods” (these are some words she penned in the book to explain her approach, which I love). I love too how she writes that we should just  slow down, chew every mouthful and appreciate and notice how you and “your intuition serve you”.

Recipes include sauerkraut, nut milks, and I’ve already made the Chocolate Rosemary tart which is quite simply “heavenly”.

You can buy the book via this link by clicking HERE.

The second book is called My Underground Kitchen by Jess Daniell. There are 100 of her favourite recipes packed into this cooking bible. Her approach to food? She writes that her food is seasonal and fresh cuisine “that doesn’t scrimp on flavour”. She dubs it “healthy but not saintly”. Don’t you just love that description!

A lot of people will know Jess for her ready-made meal and catering business with delis in Herne Bay and Remuera.

Recipes in here include Middle Eastern cuisine, to turmeric  fish tacos, plus lots of family favourites. I whipped up the gluten-free Orange and Almond Drizzle Cake which I can promise you  is moist, citrus-packed and incredible. I couldn’t stop wanting more after every mouthful…

Want to buy the book? Email Susan Holmes [email protected] 

  • Blog put together by Rachel Grunwell: Good magazine’s wellness columnist and a recipe creator, and blogger for inspiredhealth.co.nz








Health + Happiness + Fitness things that rock right now!


By Rachel Grunwell

These are some of my fave things right now that are fitness, health or happiness inspired:

  1. The new adidas ultraboostx womens-specific shoes built with ultra-cushioned comfort. These fit just like socks – so they literally hug my feet when I run. They are super light too. Man, they’re so fly! Now, I just wish I could lol…
  2. Weleda arnica sports shower gel. Free of synthetic preservatives, this is just so delicious on the skin.
  3. Dr Hauschka products. These are plant-based and so nourishing on my pimple-prone skin (yeah, still getting pimples at my age DARN). I love too that this brand is biodynamic. The makers care about everyone from the crop growers, farmers, about working well with the environment in the best way, to the consumers getting the best quality products. Keep a look out for the new make-up colours oooooh la la.
  4. Karen Murrell lipstick made from natural ingredients. This stuff feels bliss on the lips and it feels good to use this product because the makers care about how they make it.
  5. Asics new white hoodie. So stylish, fresh and super light-weight.
  6. Kelly Gibney’s new cookbook ‘Wholehearted’  – Inspiring Real Food for Every Day. The recipes in here look delicious and unique and I love Kelly’s approach that this food is all about tasting great! I love how it’s not a labelled book on any food trend, but rather guides readers to trust their intuition on taste and how the food makes them FEEL.

Blog penned by Rachel Grunwell: Wellness columnist for Good magazine, yoga teacher, recipe creator, marathoner and blogger at inspiredhealth.co.nz 

Follow InspiredHealth on Facebook & Instagram 



Nourish Your Mind, Body & Soul with this Book

By Rachel Grunwell

This book is from three holistic-living gals!


Sadie Frost (the mum of actor Jude Law’s children), her sister Holly Robinson and close friend Amber Rose (New Zealand-raised daughter of organic guru Kay Baxter) created this book: Nourish – mind, body & soul.

This is packed full of gorgeous smoothie & juice recipes, nutritious bliss balls and sweet treats made from great ingredients (sprinkled with rose petals even). There are yoga poses and the book is full of wisdom and tips from three female minds who want to help restore you. You’ll even read about some of Frost’s struggles and why she found meditation and how to do several meditations she uses in real life that she promises can still the mind. There’s even guidance on how to follow the breathe.

You’ll love Rose’s delicious food that nourishes, Robinson’s exercises to strengthen and lengthen your body and Frost’s beauty recipes to soothe the skin too or bring back shine to your locks.

If you feel stressed or want some inspiration then this beautiful book has more than a spoonful of fun, tips, ideas and things to, well, nourish…

This book is published by Kyle Books and distributed in NZ by New Holland. Cost: $49.99

Here are a couple of recipes from the book

Poached eggs with Cauliflower Toasts, Kale & Dukkah 

A delicious green smoothie