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The McKenzie Method May Help Manage Chronic Pain

By Amber Page

If you suffer from chronic neck or back pain, it's possible to use the McKenzie method of stretching to decrease pain and restore function. It is best used under the care of a healthcare professional, so be sure to consult your chiropractor about its efficacy for your particular situation. 

The McKenzie method is a progressive series of seven exercises you can do at home designed to extend your spine and align discs using gravity.

You might not be able to do all seven exercises when you begin. Start with the first exercise and add others as your range of motion increases.

 Exercise 1: Lying Face Down

This one couldn't be easier. Just lie down on your stomach on an exercise mat or other flat surface, arms down at your sides, with one side of your head on the mat. Stay in this position for two to three minutes.

 Exercise 2: Lying Face Down in Extension

Still lying on your stomach, come up on your elbows so that they're under your shoulders and your forearms are flat on the floor in front of you. Lean into your forearms, creating a curve in your back. Hold for two seconds and repeat up to 10 times.

Exercise 3: Extension in Lying

Lie down on your stomach. Then, place your hands under your shoulders and press upward until your arms are straight. Breathe out and lower yourself down to start. Repeat 10 times.

Exercise 4: Extension in Standing

Stand up with your feet shoulder width apart and place your hands on your lower back. Breathe in and bend backward at the waist, pulling your chest, shoulders, and head back. When you've gone as far as you can, breathe out and return to the starting position. Repeat 10 times.

Exercise 5: Flexion in Lying

Lie down on your back with your knees bent. Bring your knees into your chest and hold for two seconds. Repeat 10 times.

Exercise 6: Flexion in Sitting

Sit up straight on the edge of a sturdy chair, feet flat on the floor, with your arms hanging down in front of you. Slowly bend forward until your head is pointing toward the floor and your hands are reaching behind your feet. Breathe out and return to start. Repeat 10 times.

Exercise 7: Flexion in Standing

Stand up straight with your feet shoulder width apart and your arm hanging loosely in front of you. Keeping your knees straight, bend forward and reach as far down your legs as you can with your hands. When you've gone as far as you can, return to standing. Repeat six times.

These exercises may help you with your chronic pain, but the best way to get to the source of the problem and prevent pain from recurring is to see a chiropractor who may be able to resolve the pain without you having to do the exercises.

Your chiropractor can perform spinal adjustments and suggest complementary therapies that will help you get rid of your chronic pain for good.

To learn more about your health, wellness and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Danville, Calif.

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