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Fig 8: Place hands behind knees and gently pull both knees to chest

Back flexion: Lie on the back and gently pull the knees to the chest until a comfortable stretch is felt (Figure 8). After 30 seconds, slowly return to starting position. Aim to complete four to six repetitions of this flex.

Fig 9: From all fours, sit back on heels keeping hands in place.

Get down on the hands and knees, then sit back on the heels with the chest down and arms outstretched (Figure 9). After 30 seconds, slowly return to starting position. Aim to complete four to six repetitions of this stretch. Do not bounce on heels.

Fig 10: Tighten lower stomach muscles and buttocks to flatten back.

Lie on the back and press the low back into the floor by tightening the lower stomach muscles, pulling the navel (or belly button) in and up (Figure 10), hold for 10 seconds. Aim to complete eight to ten repetitions of this press.

Fig 11: Tighten lower stomach muscles and raise one leg slowly 3-4 inches from floor.

Hook-lying march. For a more advanced exercise, this position may be held while marching in place in the hooklying position, slowly raising alternate legs 3 to 4 inches from the floor (Figure 11). Aim to march for 30 seconds, two to three repetitions, with 30-second breaks in between repetitions.

Fig 6: Fold arms across chest, flatten back by tightening lower abs, and raise head and shoulders from floor.

Curl-ups. Another strengthening exercise that may be recommended by spine specialists to strengthen the lower abs is called a curl-up (Figure 6). These are done by folding arms across chest, flattening the back by tightening lower abs, then raising the head and shoulders from the floor. Hold for two to four seconds, then slowly lower to starting position. As strength builds, aim to complete two sets of ten curls.

McKenzie Exercise
Degenerative disc disease exercises while lying on the back

Fig 11: Tighten lower stomach muscles and raise one leg slowly 3-4 inches from floor

Hook-lying march. While lying on the back on the floor, with knees bent and arms at sides, tighten the stomach muscles and slowly raise alternate legs 3 to 4 inches from the floor (Figure 11). Aim to march for 30 seconds, for two to three repetitions, with 30-second breaks in between repetitions.

Fig 12: Flatten back to floor, then slowly raise one leg while lowering the opposite arm.

Hook-lying march combination. Same exercise as described above, but includes raising and lowering the opposite arm over the head (Figure 12).

Fig 13: With arms to sides, tighten lower abs and slowly raise buttocks off floor

Bridging. Start by lying on the back with the knees bent, then slowly raise the buttocks from the floor (Figure 13). Hold bridge for eight to 10 seconds, then slowly lower to starting position. As strength builds, aim to complete two sets of ten bridges.

Fig 10: Tighten lower stomach muscles and buttocks to flatten back.

These exercises should all be performed with a rigid trunk. The pelvic tilt, tightening the lower stomach muscles and buttocks to flatten the back (Figure 10), can be used to find the most comfortable position for the low back

Fig 14: Keep leg straight and lift leg 2-3 inches off floor.

Raise one leg behind with the knee slightly bent and no arch in the back or neck (Figure 14). Hold for four to six seconds, then slowly lower to starting position. As strength builds, aim to complete two sets of ten leg raises.

Fig 5: With knee straight, raise one leg and opposite arm 2-3 inches off floor.

Lying face down, with elbows straight and arms stretched above the head, raise one arm and the opposite leg 2 to 3 inches off the floor (Figure 5). Hold for four to six seconds, then slowly lower to starting position. As strength builds, aim to complete two sets of opposite side raises. Similar stabilizing exercises can be done in the 4-point position (kneeling on hands and knees), raising the arms and legs only as high as can be controlled, maintaining a stable trunk and avoiding any twisting or sagging:

Fig 15: Raise one leg behind with knee slightly bent, keeping neck and back straight.

Raise one leg behind with the knee slightly bent and no arch in the back or neck (Figure 15). Hold for four to six seconds, then slowly lower to starting position. As strength builds, aim to complete two sets of ten leg raises.

Fig 16: Raise one leg and opposite armwith knee slightly bentkeeping neck and back straight.

For a slightly more advanced exercise, raise one leg with the knee slightly bent and no arch in the back or neck and also raise the opposite arm (Figure 16). Hold for four to six seconds, then slowly lower to starting position. As strength builds, aim to complete two sets of ten leg raises.