Found in 5 comments on Hacker News
jointpdf · 2020-06-28 · Original thread
In “Treat Your Own Back” (, the author—a physiotherapist—accidentally leaves a back pain patient face down on an examination table with their back slightly hyperextended (i.e. head and upper back slightly above prone position). They were horrified that they’d harmed the patient, but instead the patient felt completely relieved of their pain. This is the story of how the McKenzie method ( was discovered. Lying prone is the core position of the method (in addition to progressive back extensions), and it actually works surprisingly well for me.
wpietri · 2019-03-13 · Original thread
Yeah, "clear physical mechanism" is a hole I could drive a truck through. Clear to whom? And what does "clear" have to do with "verified through rigorous scientific exploration of this and competing hypotheses"? As Mencken said, "Explanations exist; they have existed for all time; there is always a well-known solution to every human problem — neat, plausible, and wrong."

My experience with most serious medical things is that doctors have a clear general-audience explanation, because part of their job is making patients feel like they understand what's going on. But if you get into the details, the good doctors will say, "Well, actually, the picture is much murkier, but here's what we know based on studies X, Y, and Z, but there's a lot yet to learn."

Back pain in particular is an area of open dispute. Many people have many theories, all of them very hard to test. When I was dealing with back pain, a spine-center doctor recommended a book called "Treat Your Own Back" [1]. It was hugely helpful to me. And in it, the doctor explains that he hit upon his method because a patient came in, used a piece of equipment that was set up totally the wrong way, and said, "Gosh, doc, that was great!" It led him to reexamine what he had been taught about backs, coming up with a different "clear physical mechanism" to explain a common class of pain.

That we are still figuring something out does not mean it's psychosomatic. It doesn't mean it's not, but a doctor suggesting otherwise is doing the medical equivalent of "god of the gaps" theology, where anything mysterious is attributed to your preferred cause.


PaulHoule · 2018-01-11 · Original thread
This should be first line treatment for back pain for most people

PaulHoule · 2017-07-14 · Original thread
If your back is hunched, the solution is to stretch it in the opposite direction: the following works for many people and if you go to a doc or PT and get something like this for first line treatment you are lucky:

Look at the yoga position!

Also see

The bow position is easy to do because you can just stand up and do it as opposed to lying down as you would for the Cobra and McKenzie exercises.

I also like lying back on an exercise ball to stretch.

If your neck hurts, neck exercises are likely to make your neck hurt more because your neck is already being worked too hard already, the key is to do exercises that get other body parts to put your neck in the right place, see the neck exercises in:

tjpick · 2010-10-11 · Original thread
"Treat Your Own Back" by Robin McKenzie was recommended to me by a physiotherapist and my grandfather. General advice to consult your own GP or physiotherapist applies.

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