What Is the McKenzie Approach? | Back Pain Relief

What Is the McKenzie Approach? | Back Pain Relief

The McKenzie Approach is a method of treatment
that physical therapists are utilizing more and more in today’s world. It’s an approach that was originally invented
by a therapist named Robin McKenzie and he was a therapist that just by luck or by chance
observed a major change in a patient’s back condition. Like a lot of inventions, it was almost by
accident. He had a patient with sciatica and it was
debilitating and lasting for about ten days, and the therapist was not able to reduce the
symptoms with much success. There was one particular day where the therapist
was working on a patient and this particular sciatica patient came in a little early. So he had the patient go find a table in the
back of the clinic and lie down. But what the therapist didn’t know was that
the table was actually placed in hyperextension due to a previous patient. So the patient was laying on their stomach
in hyperextension and at the particular time, extension or hyperextension exercises were
considered a no-no in our field for, I guess, arthritic reasons and just the research that
was done at that time. But when he addressed the patient who was
lying on his stomach, the patient explained to the therapist that his sciatica pain was
better. His sciatica calf and thigh pain had reduced
and abolished and that began his approach and his thinking about, “What are we missing
in the field and what are we doing wrong in the field? Because if this can happen, why can’t it
happen to other patients?” So over a few decades, he fine-tuned the approach
and fine-tuned the approach to the point where now he has a classification system, an examination
system, and it’s an intense program. But it does allow the therapist to examine
the patient a little differently. And to utilize the skills that were taught
by the McKenzie Approach to fix or try to help maintain postural and mechanical problems
in the spine that are occurring more and more these days with longer hours of sitting and
more stresses at work, and longer commutes, etcetera. It does require a fair amount of outside training
and it does require a fair amount of attention to detail. But it does seem to be working quite well
in the field of mechanical back problems and disorders. We are trying to promote the patients to be
independent with their care. It’s probably the hallmark of the approach. I think often patients are looking for some
sort of a manual technique or a passive modality to relieve their symptoms. But Robin McKenzie and the McKenzie Approach
believes that a patient can achieve similar improvement with exercise and stretching and
if they do achieve these goals, it is very rewarding for the patient to know that they
can do it on their own. It’s promoting an independence from the
healthcare. You do require some care in the beginning
to figure out what to do. But once it’s figured out, the patient is
often able to tackle their problem on their own.

8 comments on “What Is the McKenzie Approach? | Back Pain Relief

  1. Eric Sampson Post author

    If you have Scoliosis, it is in no way a barrier to using the Mckenzie approach. Due to the imbalance of muscle strength and flexibility associated with Scoliosis, Spinal mechanical changes often occur. The treatment may have to be slightly modified but it could and should still work!

  2. Eric Sampson Post author

    There are similar mechanical injuries and associated symptoms that occur in the upper back and neck. Obviously, the treatment exercises are quire different (different part of body), but the goals and ideas are the same.

  3. tonydven Post author

    I am living proof that this method works. After two years of living hell with lower back issues, I happened upon Mckenzie's book. So I figured I have tried everything else( at great expense and effort ) so why not. After 1 week of the simplest of excercised for 5 minutes 3x a day and a one hour visit to the PT, my back has made a 100% turnaround. Go figure. Hyperextension is great. I drop and do 20 every time my back starts acting up and it is like magic.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *