Lumbar Disc Herniation Relief Exercise - McKenzie Extension

This week, Dr. Adam Meisenhelder of Back In Motion Chiropractic & Sports Rehab in Beaverton, Oregon, demonstrates the McKenzie extension exercise.

Research shows that approximately 85% of chronic low back pain is discogenic in nature, meaning that the pain experienced is caused from an injury to the lumbar disc material. These injuries range from micro tears, or fissures, to severe disc herniation. A common theme in lumbar disc injury is damage caused by excessive compressive force on the disc while in lumbar flexion. This can come in the form of a traumatic compression injury, such as experienced when dead lifting a large weight, or with lower, repetitive forces, like sitting all day, or gardening for an extended period of time. 

The concept behind the McKenzie extension exercise is quite simple; if repetitive lumbar flexion causes compression injury, then repetitive lumbar extension should provide relief. Essentially, doing the opposite of what caused the injury will fix it. It seems almost too simple, but in fact is quite effective. The key to getting the most out of this exercise, as I mention in the video, is high volume. It is not enough to perform the exercise once per day, or a few times per week. For maximum impact it must be performed several times per day. 

  • Perform 25 repetitions of the exercise in each set
  • Complete 5+ sets per day
  • More is definitely better!

Getting all these sets in will take some discipline and planning, especially if you are working. For those times when getting onto the ground is not really an option, a modification of the exercise can be performed in the standing position.

  • Stand in a neutral, upright position
  • Place hands on your hips
  • Extend or arch your back as far as you can - without tipping over:)
  • Perform 25 repetitions¬†

The exercise need not take up too much time, it's quick and stress free. If you have any questions on how best to perform this exercise, please check with our wonderful staff. Happy back health!

Back In Motion Chiropractic & Sports Rehab - Serving The Beaverton & Portland Community For Over 25 Years - "Moving Toward Your Finish Line"

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