If you work at a desk, you will almost certainly get painful back and neck trouble eventually.

The only way to avoid it – and the associated sleeplessness, painkillers, depression, and even surgery –  is to consciously take evasive action.

Believe me, I learned the hard way, via one herniated disc, one prolapsed disc, and recurring neck pain for years. At one point I had got so depressed with the sciatic nerve pain shooting down my leg that I almost wanted it to be amputated.

Then, about 10 years ago I came across the Mackenzie exercises and the Mackenzie roll. These resources not only saved me a lot of pain but even saved my ministry at one point. They’ve helped rescue others too as I always make “Caring for Your Back and Neck” one of the lectures in my pastoral ministry class. Some students who listened skeptically at the time have later come back to thank me!

If you want to avoid back and neck pain, or if you are already suffering from it, here are three steps to take:

Step 1: Buy Treat Your Own Back or Treat Your Own Neck depending on your need.


These books will help you understand the importance of a healthy “S” shape or inward curve in your lower back (often called the lordosis) and in your neck. Once you become conscious of this, you’ll be amazed to discover how bad your desk posture is – most of us look like a turtle with a giraffe’s neck hanging out towards the screen.

Each book could save you a fortune in painkillers, physiotherapy visits, and even surgery. They will help you  understand the physics of your back as well as explain and demonstrate some very simple exercises that are easy to learn. Here’s a sample.

Step 2: Invest in a Mackenzie roll. I bought two, one of them a full roll for soft chairs and sofas and a D-roll for hard chairs and the car. You will want to use them whenever you sit down to push out your lordosis into a nice “S” shape and stop you sitting with a poorly curved spine.

Step 3: Change your sitting habits, especially at your desk. Learn how to touch type so that you are not looking down at the keyboard, position your screen at eye level so that you are looking straight ahead, and make sure you are sitting with your head back and your lower back slightly curving in towards your desk rather than out towards your chair.

These three steps cured my back and neck issues and have largely prevented recurrence. If I feel stiffness or pain coming on again, I whip out the books and the rolls, do the exercises, fix my postures, and within a few days I’m back to normal.

PS: I should probably put one of these small-print disclaimers in here just in case some crazy does this, paralyzes themselves, and sues me. So, please check with your doctor or physiotherapist before doing any of this. I’m just a pastor who’s found this extremely helpful and I know many others who have benefited too.


  • Richard

    These exercises do work. I have suffered from back pain for many years and had lower back surgery. The two videos shown on the floor can also be done successfully standing up against a wall. Thanks, David.

  • David

    This is not a simple solution, but consider a standing desk. I use an old wooden teaching lectern connected to a bookshelf. I use it during sermon preparation. I find that being on my feet stimulates my thinking.