What is the McKenzie Method

The McKenzie method is a physical therapy treatment classification that was first introduced to the physical therapy world in the 1950’s by Robin McKenzie. Robin McKenzie had a clinic in New Zealand and that is where he first observed the phenomena of centralization, and it was by accident. McKenzie had a patient he was treating with lower back pain that radiated to his left buttock and down his leg. The patient was not responding to conventional treatment and one day the patient happened to lie on a treatment table on his stomach that was elevated on one side. The patient was lying there for 10 minutes waiting for McKenzie to return to the room. Once McKenzie returned to the room the patient noticed his leg and buttock pain was gone. McKenzie realized that extension was the factor that reduced the pain in the patient’s back and that was the start of the McKenzie Method.

McKenzie believed that most back and neck pain was mechanical in nature and by moving a patient is a particular direction you could reduce their pain and centralize the pain from the extremity back towards the spine and resolve over time. McKenzie was very motivated by the patient taking control of their own pain and treating it themselves. He wanted to empower the patient to treat their own issues. In most cases when you consult with a McKenzie-trained therapist, they will assist the patient in finding a directional preference to reduce the symptoms and fix the problem. The term directional preference refers to a particular movement or direction that reduces the patients’ symptoms. Once that directional preference is found the therapist will give the patient-specific exercises to do to fix their own problem. If the self exercises don’t fully abolish the symptoms the therapist will add forms of overpressure to fully abolish the symptoms. Once the pain and symptoms are fully gone the patient is given home exercises to continue with to prevent the pain from returning.

If you are interested in the McKenzie Method please call Red Canyon Physical Therapy and one of our trained therapists will assist you with your care.