back pain

Back pain sufferers

Depending on the cause of your back pain, gentle back pain exercises to improve flexibility are often among the first steps toward recovery. Only once the pain is gone or has eased sufficiently should strengthening exercises for back pain begin.

I want to emphasize the importance of knowing the right techniques to apply to your particular problem. Some conditions benefit from forward bends, others are eased by leaning over backward, while still others call for exercise in a neutral stance.

The McKenzie Method – an exercise approach developed by New Zealand physiotherapist Robin McKenzie and taught at branches of the McKenzie Institute worldwide – has gained an enthusiastic following among back pain sufferers over the past few decades.

One of if not the most preferred method of treatment among physical therapists today, the

McKenzie philosophy “encourages your body’s own ability to repair itself without any external energies like medication, heat treatment, ultrasound, surgery of any kind, needles, or forces introduced by a doctor or consultant.” Trained professionals work to develop the patient’s self-treatment skills, in great part through physical movement and back pain exercises.

The ideal situation is for the patient to be able to recover without the therapist having to put their hands on the patient. McKenzie would say the patient put their back ‘out’ by performing certain movements or getting into certain positions, and, in many cases, we should be able to teach the patient to put their back ‘in,’ so to speak, by utilizing other movements and positions identified during the examination process.

Seven basic exercises for back pain make up the exercise program, with the purpose not to strengthen the back but to abolish pain and, “where appropriate,” restore normal range of motion. To determine whether the exercises are helping, the patient is exhorted to closely observe any changes in the intensity or location of the pain. Even if you don’t use McKenzie’s exercises, monitoring your progress is always good advice.

“If your pain moves to the midline of the spine and away from areas where it is usually felt (a phenomenon called centralization), you are exercising correctly and this exercise program is the correct one for you,” McKenzie writes in Treat Your Own Back, calling centralization “the single most important guide you have in determining the correct back pain exercise for your problem.”

Alternatively, if your back pain moves away from the lower back or increases in the buttock or leg, you are on the wrong track. Another warning sign: pain that continues to increase in intensity after the initial exercise session. Although “new” pains often temporarily develop whenever we move in ways we are not used to, they should soon subside. If any of these occur, or you notice any tingling, numbness, or any other “red flags”, stop performing the new movements and contact a health care professional.

Look for a practitioner who is certified in the philosophies and treatments known formally as the McKenzie Method of Mechanical Diagnosis and Therapy. To qualify for the full certification program and credentialing exam, an applicant must first have obtained their credentials as a physical therapist, osteopath, chiropractor, or M.D.

Look for the designation of either Cert-MDT or the more advanced Dip. MDT (Diploma in Mechanical Diagnosis and Therapy).

Even if you’re suffering with pain right now, a few simple back pain exercises can make all the difference. If your pain is lower down, some low impact low back pain exercises can help loosen off any stiffness and start to strengthen your core muscle to help prevent it from happening again.

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