Customer Reviews: Treat Your Own Back
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on May 16, 2015
This book talks a lot about posture and how it can affect your back. Posture suggestions follow. The exercises recommended for most cases of back pain involve a person bending their spine backwards. These are done in the standing and on-your-stomach positions.

One thing I did notice about this back pain book is that it contains no exercises to strengthen your back- which I think is strange as it is well documented in the back literature that people with back pain have smaller than normal back muscles (Parkkola 1993 and Daneels 2000) when examined with CT scans and MRI's as well as weaker than normal back muscles (Smidt 1983 and Mayer 1985 and Mayer 1989 and Roy 1989 and Cassisi 1993). On this basis, I felt that this book was overlooking this important point and should probably address it with at least one strengthening exercise (I rec Treat Your Own Spinal Stenosis for that).

Having said that, I think this book will be most helpful for people with back pain that radiates into one or both legs due to a disc problem. People with spinal stenosis or a slippage of one vertebrae over the other (called a spondylolisthesis) will want to be careful with the backward bending motion as this might actually aggravate their pain.
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on January 5, 2014
I felt compelled to rate this book only to say that doing the exercises made my back worse. But I accept that I may very well have different issues than others. I am an active 60 year old who was told by a specialist that my MRI shows extensive degeneration of the L5 disc. Yet I was able to do a lot of things without the pain getting worse. Until I followed this book that is. Then all hell broke loose and I had about a month where I was really hurting. I must say I have had numerous sports injuries and am very good about following rehab instruction to the letter. I am glad to see so many people benefitted from this book but for me there was a happy ending of sorts. I began following the exercises from the author of Healing the Hidden Root of Pain and after four months I am pain free! For all of us back pain sufferers, it is a blessing that there are books and videos from legit practitioners like McKenzie so we can at least try to heal without the countless and often fruitless visits to docs, chiropractors, and PT centers that often relieve, but rarely cure pain. And deplete your bank account by thousands of dollars.
I may again try some of the McKenzie techniques now that I am pain free.
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on August 10, 2013
When I first heard from my first physical therapist that I needed to bend backwards to stop what had become 2+ years of low back issues, I thought she must be crazy. Fast forward 4 months and I wish I could give Robin McKenzie a giant hug! His treatment program has literally saved my back and changed my life. This book is almost unbelievable in the simplicity of the plan, but it works like a miracle if you have the kind of back problems he developed this system for. This book clearly explains what causes the pain, and how critical a role your spine plays in the pain. This was a breakthrough for me as I assumed my pain was all muscular, and did not understand the role of the spine and disks. The book explains it all with great diagrams and pictures, then goes thru how to treat three phases: acute pain, recovery, and maintenance/ prevention of future episodes. You MUST follow the program exactly and stop any other things you are doing. I was inadvertently making my pain stay longer by doing what I thought would help. Check with a doctor and/ or physical therapist to make sure your back issue is the kind this program works for, and if you are, then prepare yourself for a miraculous change!
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on September 2, 2013
My PT diagnosed me over the phone with disc bulge (agonizing pain across my lower back which happened suddenly while vacuuming). He recommended that I get this book, and that while waiting for it to arrive, I should not do any stretches that caused any rounding of the back, and to concentrate only on "extension" (arching the back). Dr. McKenzie explains everything in this skinny little book that takes almost no time to read, and it was a life-saver. I had never felt so crippled in my life, and I had wasted a week of pain before finally calling my PT - but as soon as I got the book and understood what had happened and what to do about it, every single morning when I woke up, I experienced a new level of relief. Dr. McKenzie also explains that this is not the end of your healthy back, and that you can totally recover. I'm 62 years old, but five weeks after my back "went out" it's as if it never happened, and I can bend over and forward-fold as I had always done before.

Dr McKenzie is a chiropractor - but one of the best things in this book is his statement that 80% of his disc-bulge patients don't need any chiropractic adjustment at all - all they need to do is the simple series of exercises in the book. It sure worked for me! Very affordable, and highly recommended.
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on June 11, 2012
I am a medical resident with a long history of discogenic back pain and sciatica and I have benefited tremendously from the easy to follow advices given in this book. The McKenzie method is very well researched and unlike other forms of physical therapy, such as TENS, ultrasound, etc. it has actually been found to work for people with disc-related problems. However, if you are going to follow the advice in this book, you will have to follow it to the last word, and that means stopping all other exercises that you've been recommended by any other specialist, especially in the acute stage of the flare up. Just do the exercises described in the book and maintain correct posture AT ALL TIMES. This will place the disc in a more anatomically correct position, which will releive the pressure from the torn annular fibers, allowing the annulus to heal (as much as it can anyway). The only other thing you could do is lots of walking; but no strengthening exercises until you are pain-free for at least 3-4 weeks. Commencing strengthening exercises before that could aggravate existing annular tears and significantly prolong recovery time. You will have plenty of time to strengthen you core muscles with the aid of various lumbar stabilization exercises AFTER the acute stage is over. Besides, no matter how strong your core is, this is not a substitute for correct posture, as you could easily suffer a relapse even after 7 years of being virtually pain-free and having an "iron" core if you forget about correct posture. (speaking from experience) Also, while in acute stage, sit as little as possible...20-30 minutes at a time, followed by some extensions while standing, then a 20 min walk, then 20 min bedrest. NEVER tolerate increasingly worsening pain while sitting, as this could actually further tear newly healed tissues and again prolong recovery time. Take a few weeks off from work if you have to, but you've gotta be in total control over your daily activities for a while. You won't need any other specialist if your problem is truly discogenic and you are willing to give these exercises at least a couple of weeks chance. Believe it or not, the fact that these exercises are so effective have influenced my decision to not follow my initial goal of pursuing interventional pain management career...It made me feel like a fraud to recommend invasive and dangerous procedures to patients who could easily treat themselves.
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on January 11, 2015
I'm a spine surgeon, and routinely recommend this book and "Treat your own neck" to my patients. Even if you have done physical therapy it is a good reference to have if you have recurrent low back pain. A worthy investment for a better quality of life. But remember: you have to DO the exercises too!
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on July 25, 2013
After injuring my back and ending up with severe leg pain, unable to walk without the aid of a back brace and a cane, and having gone to a Doctor (general practitioner) who didn't know what to do other than schedule an MRI, I ran across this book. I had severe pain and could hardly lay flat on my stomach, but I started doing the stretches outlined in the book, positive that back surgery was in my future. Amazingly, the pain dropped to 1/10 immediately, and continued to drop over the next week. I was finally able to get my Doctor to write a prescription for Physical Therapy, and by the time I actually got into the physical therapist, two weeks had passed since my MRI. By then, I was walking with very little pain, and and actually doing some biking. Amazing! The physical therapist asked what treatment I had undergone and I said all I have done was to follow the advice in "Treat your own Back" by Robin Mckenzie. She said "You don't really need me then. All I'm going to show you is what you already know." She was right: the first set of exercises she gave me were right from this book. I am a believer in the McKenzie method. I went from Level 8 pain and walking with a cane and back brace to Level 0 pain and walking and biking in the course of 3 weeks. There is no back surgery in my future.
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on December 2, 2014
25 years old with recently diagnosed herniated disc L1 to L5 with moderate spinal stenosis L4 to L5. Since April this year dealing with severe pain every day then in August started having intermittent tingling and numbness of bilteral lower extremities. Seen numerous specialist, chiropractors who basically stated I would need to take pain pills till I aged as bit and quality of life got to "bad". Well as a RN and mother of 3 pain pills do not mix well. I took charge of my health and did extensive research. I purchased this book and 4 days later I have significantly improved. Was able to work all day and come home to 3 little ones and not suffer through the pain and tingling. I highly recommend this book and the program itself. I wish I would have found this sooner!!
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on October 18, 2013
I'm an MD with recent onset low back pain and sciatica. I want to avoid surgery if at all possible. "There is no surgery like no surgery!" McKenzie's stretching exercises are helping me a great deal, and it all makes sense from the anatomical perspective. Try it.
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on July 19, 2015
I've had low back problems for the past 15 years. It first became chronic about 15 years ago - and I noticed that every time I would go jogging my low back would go out the next day. So, after getting no help from my doctor, I decided to stop running. I started biking and playing other more low-impact sports instead. But for the past 3 years or so I've been injuring my low back every month or two despite me trying to avoid the activities that caused the pain. Unfortunately that was everything from chopping firewood, lifting concrete blocks (for work), to tying my shoe!

My work is physical and I'm an athlete. I've been seeing a chiropractor for the past two years or so, hoping that was the answer. While the chiropractor's adjustments were helpful short-term (ie for 48 hours, at $60 per adjustment), I was given no tools to help myself. This was a chiropractor that supposedly believed in an integrated approach, including physical therapy and massage. It was all useless. I spent $1,000s in treatments to no avail...matter of fact, my injury rate increased gradually the more I saw the chiropractor. I began reducing my level of physical activity, and still was having more injuries as time went on. An injury every two months eventually was becoming more than once a month..what used to be serious pain for 24 hours after the injury became pain for a week or so, which I could barely walk around without throbbing horrible low back pain. Eventually my chiropractor started blaming me for my re-occuring problem. Saying I was overdoing it or lifting with bad form, which, in retrospect, was total b.s. knowing what I know now. I'm 34 years old, and I've been feeling increasingly hopeless about my condition. I figured maybe I'm just over the hill, and should replace good soothing outdoor physical activity with watching tv or video games. Or maybe blow my brains out since life isn't worth much without being able to use an otherwise healthy and capable body.

Since buying this book, reading it and implementing recommended exercises - starting about 3 months ago, I've not had any back injuries, and I've been INCREASING my level of physical activity gradually. The best part is, for once in my life I have an UNDERSTANDING of why my back was going out so regularly - something my chiropractor never really explained, or maybe never really understood himself. Also, there are good recommended exercises both for maintenance as well as for when the back pain is approaching....right at that moment of first tweak. There have been several occasions when working, or while involved in some physical activity, in which I feel those first ominous signs of pain. I used to have to just brace myself and walk around very carefully until the inevitable hit...the throbbing horrible pain and angst that comes along with I have immediate stretches I can do right after that initial twinge that cause the pain to subside and disappear within a couple of minutes. Holy crap - I wish I'd been implementing this for that past 15 years or so that I've been struggling with back issues. Anyway, time will continue to tell how this is all working out. But for now I'm feeling more optimistic about my body than ever before, and I'm even beginning to run again (and learning about how to deal with knee pain as well, which also was a problem I got little to no help for from the medical establishment.
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