Does it matter which exercise?

exercise physiotherapy

A randomized control trial of exercise for low back pain.


Low back pain is often reported to improve with generalized, non-specific exercises regardless of the patient’s specific presentation. But is this true? This study compared people with low back pain who were given either patient-specific exercises using a method called McKenzie Technique, or generalized low back exercises.

How the study was performed

There were three groups: one got patient-specific, McKenzie exercises, the second group got the opposite of the patient-specific exercises (ie. exercises in the wrong direction!), and the third group got generalized, non-specific exercises which were the same for every patient in the group.

What we learn from this research

The McKenzie group – which was given the patient-specific exercise – improved statistically across all measures including pain, medication use and disability. More so, these improvements were statistically superior in all measures as compared to the generalized exercise program. What this means is that by using McKenzie technique, we can determine the correct exercise program and once we do, the outcomes are far superior to those routine, generalized exercises commonly prescribed in Physical Therapy settings.


American Back Center