Book Review: Treat Your Own Back
Author: Robin McKenzie, CNZM, OBE, FCSP (Hon), FNZSP (Hon), Dip MDT, Dip MT
100 pages, Spinal Publications New Zealand Ltd, $10.00
Many people suffer from acute or chronic back pain and have tried holistic adjustment approaches through chiropractic care, physical therapy, and osteopaths. Yet relief still eludes those suffering with pain, even for some who have had invasive surgery. In his book, Treat Your Own Back, Robin McKenzie, a physical therapist and president of The McKenzie Institute, a not-for-profit organization with its headquarters in New Zealand, claims to provide you with the INs and OUTs of back pain and the knowledge necessary to prevent and reverse back pain. McKenzie’s method was first published in 1980 and over 20 years later McKenzie was voted as the most influential physical therapist in a survey conducted by Advance Journal.
Treat Your Own Back talks directly to you, the reader, and immediately addresses your skepticism. How is it possible to treat your own back? Can you believe the hubbub? McKenzie claims that he has the answers. Before you jump ahead to these exercises, McKenzie encourages you to read from the beginning in order to fully grasp how the back works and where back pain begins – your posture. If you live a sedentary life, work at a desk or stand on your feet all day leaning with your shoulders hunched over trying to get your job done, your posture is affected to its detriment. McKenzie shows you through photos and detailed descriptions how to treat your own back. McKenzie uses both scientific studies and analogies as evidence to support his claims. Additionally, he explains the truths behind many common myths about back pain, including if weather conditions affect pain and the idea that we should avoid rigorous activities in order to avoid pain.
McKenzie gets right to the point, poor posture is the cause of back pain and in order end this pain you have to readjust yourself. Treat Your Own Back has seven key exercises (and variations) that are paramount in readjusting your posture. The only problem is that this book only discusses the lumbar region. To familiarize you with the lumbar region, it is the lower part of your spine that is connected to the pelvis. While lower back pain is a problem with many people, it does not encompass everyone and many people with lower back pain also have neck pain. So, to learn how to treat your own neck, you have to purchase another book. Despite this fact, the book provides exercises that are extremely beneficial for lower back pain.
Another reason that makes this book beneficial is that McKenzie also discusses activities for special situations for those suffering from pregnancy pains, athletes, or for those aged 50 and older. He also gives you exercises to do if you have no initial response or benefit from his method. More importantly, Treat Your Own Back tells you what to do when acute back pain strikes and how to avoid it in the future. McKenzie constantly reminds you of what to do if your pain increases during these exercises. If your pain persists, he provides the contact information for The McKenzie Institute.
This book is a nice, quick read – it provides you with some tools that could change your life. It also informs you of some quick fixes like the lumbar roll to use while you are at work or traveling and also the wrap around lumbar roll to help protect your back while you sleep. McKenzie can open your eyes to alternative methods to invasive surgery with the information provided in Treat Your Own Back. You will learn how your activities affect your posture, and what you can do to fix it to ultimately live pain free.