Many people experience some form of back pain in their lifetime. In the United States, back pain affects 75 to 85 percent of all adults.

If you have back pain, it’s best to follow up with your healthcare provider to determine what’s causing it. This can help you find the safest, most effective treatment option.

For some, this includes following the McKenzie method, sometimes called mechanical diagnosis and therapy. It includes a set of guidelines for evaluating someone’s movement as well as exercises designed to improve spinal mobility and posture.

To reap the full benefits of the McKenzie method, it’s best to work with a physical therapist who can give you a proper evaluation.

Still, you can try a few McKenzie exercises at home for back pain relief.

The McKenzie method isn’t for everyone. If you’ve had back surgery, it’s best to avoid this program. You should also avoid it if you have a serious spinal condition, such as a spinal fracture.

It also doesn’t hurt to check with your healthcare provider before attempting these exercises. They can help you ensure that these exercises won’t make your back pain worse.

If you do decide to attempt McKenzie exercises on your own, make sure you move slowly. Abrupt movements might worsen your symptoms.

If you feel the following symptoms in one or both legs, stop the exercise immediately:

You might feel temporary back pain while doing the McKenzie exercises. This is expected. Wait until the pain subsides while doing one exercise before moving on to the next one.

This move reduces pain by unloading pressure on your lower back. It also helps align your spine.

  1. Lie down on your stomach. Place your arms at your sides.
  2. Turn your head to the side or face down.
  3. Hold for two to three minutes. Repeat up to eight times a day.
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To support your lower back, add a pillow under your chest.

  1. Lie down on your stomach and place a pillow under your chest. Place your arms at your sides.
  2. Turn your head to the side or face down.
  3. Hold for two to three minutes. Repeat up to eight times a day.
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This exercise will help restore the natural curve in your lower back. It’s also known as lying face down in extension.

  1. Lie down on your stomach. Prop yourself up on your forearms with your shoulders above your elbows.
  2. Hold for two to three minutes.
  3. Lower your upper body. Repeat up to eight times a day.
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Prone press-ups also help to restore your lower back’s natural curve.

  1. Lie down on your stomach. Place your hands under your shoulders.
  2. Slowly straighten your arms to lift your upper body. Hold for two seconds. Lower yourself to starting position.
  3. Complete 10 reps. Repeat up to eight times a day.
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The standing extension helps the backward-bending motion of your lower back. It’s also convenient to do since you don’t have to lie on the floor.

  1. Stand up straight. Place your hands on the small of your back.
  2. Bend backward as far as possible, keeping your knees straight. Hold for two seconds. Return to the starting position.
  3. Complete 10 reps. Repeat up to eight times a day.
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Lying flexion improves the way your lower back bends forward.

If you don’t feel comfortable on your back, place your head on a pillow. This will reduce pressure on your spine.

  1. Lie down on your back. Place your feet flat on the floor, hip width apart.
  2. Bring both your knees up to your chest. Hold for two seconds. Return to your starting position.
  3. Complete six reps. Repeat up to four times a day.
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Sitting flexion helps restore the forward-bending motion of your back. It’s an intermediate version of lying flexion.

  1. Sit on the edge of a chair. Straighten your back and place your feet flat on the floor.
  2. Bend forward. Reach your hands in between your legs and toward the floor. Hold for two seconds. Return to your starting position.
  3. Repeat six reps. Complete up to four times a day.
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Standing flexion, the most challenging exercise in this series, also increases your spine’s ability to bend forward.

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart.
  2. Bend forward at your hips, keeping your knees straight. Reach your hands toward the floor.
  3. Pause for one to two seconds. Return to your starting position.
  4. Repeat six reps. Complete up to two times a day.

Don’t worry if you can’t reach very far. This will improve over time.

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The McKenzie method is one approach to treating back pain. While the method is typically used by physical therapists, there are some exercises you can try doing on your own. Just make sure to move slowly and get in touch with your healthcare provider if something doesn’t feel right.