Free your self from back pain

A Look at the McKenzie Method

A Look at the McKenzie Method

Whats is the McKenzie Method:

The McKenzie Method is a method of Mechanical Diagnosis and Therapy (MDT). This method of physical therapy or assessment and treatment (intervention), is internationally acclaimed for spinal and extremity pain and it has been widely used for the past 40 years. Developed by New Zealand born Physiotherapist Robin McKenzie in the late 1950’s, this method aims to access and diagnose all areas of the musculoskeletal system. It is mainly known for it’s work with the back, specifically low back, and neck pain, it is also known for its work with shoulder, knee and ankle pain as well as issues associated with sciatica, sacroiliac joint pain, arthritis, degenerative disc disease, muscle spasms and more.

Robin McKenzie noted during his practices that extending the spine could provide significant pain relief to certain patients. In the assessment stage, this philosophy uses repeated movements and sustained postures in a single direction to direct centralization. Centralization refers to a pattern of pain level response. The intervention component of this method is the corresponding repeated and sustained flexion and extension movements or an appropriate treatment plan as prescribed by the assessment component where the physician develops an understanding of the patients complaint . This method puts emphasis on self care after your initial consultation.

Here is a video that will explain:

The McKenzie Method is basically four major steps:

  • Assessment
  • Classification
  • Treatment
  • Prevention

Assessment is understanding a patients symptoms and how they behave. The patient will be asked to move in a single direction which will be held for a period of time and repeated.

Classification or rather classifications, there are three that could result from the assessment stage and they are; Postural syndrome, dysfunction syndrome and derangement’s syndrome, with a small number of patients falling into the “other category”. Each category represents the likely underlying reason for the experienced pain and symptom behavior. The classification process is extremely important as it will determine if the McKenzie Method is an appropriate approach for the patient and will also determine which movement or protocol will most likely lead to centralization and the end of or reduction of pain. Each syndrome corresponds to specific mechanical procedures.

Treatment or centralization depends on the patient, however the physician and the patient will perform specific exercises one after the other until centralization occurs, pain subsides and mobility increases. Centralization is the movement of pain to a more central location. When this occurs as a result of the specific exercise or sustained position, it indicates the correct exercise is being performed.

Prevention is the last part of the treatment and is designed to educate patients to ensure continuation of appropriate exercises and correct structural positions for day to day living.

In summary, The McKenzie Method provides safe and effective treatment as well as self management skills to encourage and empower patients to manage their current symptoms and reduce frequency and severity of their pain.


McKenzie states that “Self treatment is the best way to achieve a lasting improvement of back pain and neck pain”.

For more information on this method go to The McKenzie Institute.

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