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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    Are there any recommended stretches/exercises for those suffering from back and neck pain?

    Is it good for me to stretch my back and neck everyday if I'm experiencing soreness and pain? What about yoga? I want to improve my condition but worry that certain exercises may have the reverse effect.
  • Find a professional to answer your question

  • Zac Jefcoate

    Exercise Physiologist

    Zac Jefcoate is the owner of Exzac Health Solutions. He was one of three accredited exercise physiologist practicing in G.P super clinics in Western Australia. … View Profile

    Just remember that taking a joint through its full or extreme end range can be hazardous to the tendons, ligaments. It is important when stretching to have a gently controlled manner and avoid anything too dynamic. I would suggest stretching muscles when they are warm and to avoid over stretching capsules/ ligamentous structures etc.

    Only stretch to a slight discomfort and seek help from your physiotherapist or exercise physiologist.

  • 1


    Joel Laing


    I am a McKenzie Method specialised physiotherapist, with a Diploma in Mechanical Diagnosis & Therapy. Using the McKenzie Method I predominantly treat low back and … View Profile

    Yes specific stretches can be very effective.
    They can both relieve symptoms (immeadiately within 10-12 repetitions of the particular exercise), or be done to prevent them coming on.
    The issue is the exercise needs to be SPECIFIC!
    The same stretch for everyone is not recommended. 
    For example the most common stretch for low back pain is extension (arching backwards as far as you can). Typically when repeated, this may give pain that then reduces with repetition (indicating the correct exercise is being performed). The issue is that some low back problems can worsen doing this (eg. canal stenosis or a much more lateral disc bulge). 
    I am a specialised McKenzie Physiotherapist, and what we do is a specific assessment to determine the nature of your problem and teach you which specific movement (identifed at the assessment as it reduces your pain rapidly and restores stiff movement). We then teach you how to do it regularly both to treat symtpoms and prevent the onset of pain after certain activities.
    Things like yoga can be fantastic if you just need general stretches, but people experiencing pain will have a specific problem. For example if you have a lower back disc problem (easily the most common source of low back pain) the predominance of flexion exercises in yoga can worsen your problem. If you know what to do you can then tailor your yoga program to reduce the flexion exercises or at least balance them with more extension exercises. 
    I would recommend seeing a McKenzie practitioner.
    It is a research proven and support safe method that allows you to determine the nature of your specific problem and learn how to treat it. is the McKenzie website international. You can select your country and state and locate a McKenzie practitioner near you to quickly teach you what your specific issue needs.  

  • Sandra McFaul


    Do you suffer from chronic lower back pain or neck pain? Based in SYDNEY, Sandra is 1 of ONLY 15 Physiotherapists in Australia with ADVANCED … View Profile

    Joel Lang has answered this question very well. 

    To find your closest McKenzie trained physiotherapist, you need to look in the world-wide directory of qualified McKenzie physiotherapists.  There are 2 levels of training, crendentialed and diploma - which is the ADVANCED level.

    As Joel mentioned above, we all need to stretch because our muscles get tight but when you are in pain, seeking help from a trained McKenzie therapist will often help to reduce your pain immediately with the correct exercise prescribed for your specific condition.

  • 1


    John Smartt is an osteopath who practices in the centre of Sydney. View Profile

    Very careful ones.
    Before doing any stretch, take care that you aren't trying to stretch a nerve that is being caught in a msucle. If you are, stretching will make things worse. One test to do is to just start to apply the stretch. Then put your chin, quite slowly, onto your chest. If that increases the stretch, don't try to stretch the muscle. You are likely to be trying to stretch a nerve (which don't really stretch). The nerve will then tell the muscles you are trying to stretch to tighten up. This applies to any stretch you do, anywhere in your body; always test the stretch, but putting your chin onto your chest, before continuing.

  • 1


    Dr Greg Sher


    I am the Clinic Director of the Sydney Spine and Sports Clinic.At our clinic, we see an equal mix of city office workers and elite … View Profile

    I would say any stretch or exercise programme should be specific to the person's current condtion and level of function. 

    I would always consult a suitable musculoskeletal train physician (chiropractor, osteopath, exercise physiologist, physiotherapist……..) before begining an exercise programme to help neck and back pain. 

  • Tony Gibson


    Physiotherapist of 30 years experience. Member of Sports Med Aust. APA Sports Group Post Grad Dip in Sports Sci PGD McKenzie. Member of McKenzie Institute. … View Profile

    Stretching and exercises are often appropriate for neck and back pain but before you apply them you need to find out what is causing your pain. Stretches tend to be used mostly for soft tissue problems( such as tight or scarred ligaments) and exercises for disc problems ( what McKenzie would define as derangements). Stabilising and strengthening exercises are used secondarily in both cases.
    The real trick is to find out the cause of the problem in order to apply the correct stretch or exercise. If you don't want to see a health professional try reading “Treat your own back” or “Treat your own Neck” by Robin McKenzie. it may save you time and money.

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