Exercises for a pinched nerve in the lower back

Lessen pain from a pinched nerve in the lower back by performing the McKenzie exercises. The McKenzie Protocol is a series of non-resistance positions, developed in the 1960s by back pain specialist, Robin McKenzie. These simple exercises place the spine in positions which decrease the pressure on a pinched nerve by moving the disc located between the vertebrae away from the area of impingement. A pinched nerve in the lower back can radiate sharp pain into the legs. The chief goal of the McKenzie method is centralising the pain by lessening the leg pain and returning it to the source, the pinched nerve in the spine, since pain in the lower back is generally tolerated better than pain in the leg.

Prone position

The first position, also known as the prone position, is simply lying face down with your arms by your sides. Turn your head to whichever side is more comfortable and relax your back, buttocks and leg muscles. Hold this position for 30 seconds. This position will start the forward movement of the intervertebral disc, helping to remove the nerve impingement. If this position centralises--lessens--the leg pain, then proceed to the next position.

Prone prop

Move from the position of lying face down to the second position, named the prone prop, by keeping your pelvis on the floor and raising your upper body until your forearms are resting on the floor. Hold this position for 30 to 60 seconds. Return to position one for 30 to 60 seconds then proceed back to position two. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds. If this position centralises the pain--lessens the pain at its furthest point from the spine--then proceed to position three.

Prone press-up

Move from position two into position three, called the prone press-up, by maintaining your pelvis on the floor and placing your hands palm down underneath your chest. Straighten your arms as far as you can, and hold this arched position for 15 to 30 seconds. Return to the prone position, and rest for 15 to 30 seconds. Move back to the prone press-up position, which pushes the intervertebral disc forward and relieves the compression on the nerve. Maintain this position for 15 to 30 seconds. Return to position one and relax.

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About the Author

Dr. Donald A. Ozello, D.C., is the owner and treating doctor of chiropractic at Championship Chiropractic in Las Vegas, Nevada. He is a writer for, The Las Vegas Informer,, "OnFitness Magazine" and various other print and online publications.