In the 1960’s a New Zealand Physical Therapist named Robin McKenzie noted that extending the spine could provide significant pain relief to certain patients. He developed a series of maneuvers and exercises to help patients take a more active role in their continued health.
The long-term goal of the McKenzie Method is to teach patients suffering from neck pain and/or back pain how to treat themselves and manage pain throughout their lives using exercise and other strategies. Other goals include:
- Reduce pain quickly
- Return to normal functioning in daily activities
- Minimize the risk of recurring pain (avoid painful postures and movements)
- Minimize the number of return visits to the spine specialist
McKenzie’s exercises for back pain are a series of progressive positions. If your back pain is especially acute, you may not be able to work through all stages straight away. In this case work through as many stages as you can and only progress further as your pain subsides. The stages of McKenzie’s exercises are prone lying, prone lying while resting on elbows, prone push-ups, progressive extension using pillows and standing extension. Numerous variations of the McKenzie sequence exist which add or remove stages according to interpretation of the original sequence.