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This back extension exercise aims to target the lumbar spine (or lower section of the back). It is sometimes referred to as a ‘McKenzie Extension’, named after physiotherapist Robin McKenzie who utilised this exercise extensively is his well-known methodology for treating back pain.

Useful for

  • Low back pain sufferers
  • Promoting mobility in the lumbar spine
  • Individuals suffering from an acute disc herniation.


  • Lying on your stomach, placing your hands under your shoulders 
  • Breathe in and on the breathe out, gently press through the palm of hands
  • Begin to lift your chest off the mat while straightening your arms
  • Make sure to keep your hips firmly pressed into the floor and unclench your buttocks
  • Start by going nice and slowly into the movement, only going to the limit of your available movement
  • Do not push into pain
  • Hold the position for a few seconds at the top
  • Lower your chest slowly and return to the starting position
  • Complete 5- 10 times or as instructed by your physiotherapist


  • This exercise should not be painful
  • If your movement is limited you can try the exercise with one or two pillows under your hips
  • If you are unsure of the exercise , please contact your physiotherapist

Extensions in Standing


  • Facing wall, position elbows in an upside down V position at shoulder height
  • Gently drop hips towards wall creating an arch through the lower spine
  • Return to the starting position and repeat as per physiotherapist guidelines
  • Do not push into pain for this exercise