McKenzie Method

What is the McKenzie Method?

The McKenzie Method is a system of evaluating and treating spinal disorders that was developed by New Zealand Physiotherapist, Robin McKenzie. It is practiced extensively throughout the world in 40 countries and 5 continents.

This is an active treatment philosophy that emphasizes teaching the client how to manage and treat the pain themselves as well as how to prevent the pain from occurring again. It is also explained how important posture and their personalized exercise program are to maintaining an active lifestyle.

At Peak Performance, we primarily use the McKenzie Method in treating and resolving disc dysfunctions in the neck and lower back (bulging or herniated discs).

Why is this different to other treatments?

Assessment: On your first visit, a McKenzie trained clinician will give you a thorough examination which is designed to determine what may be causing your pain. This will involve having you do specific repeated movements and positions to see how these affect or change your pain. From this, a personalized treatment program will be designed and taught. Robin McKenzie feels that people can treat themselves as long as they are given the correct education.

How Does the McKenzie Method Help with Bulging or Herniated Discs?

The discs are the cushions between your spinal vertebrae. Often the outer layer of the disc, the annulus, becomes stressed and weakens because of either trauma such as a fall or car accident, or because of faulty postures and movement habits over time. The center portion of the disc (the nucleus) can then press into this weakened area in the annulus and a bulge effect is created. If the bulge is large enough, then it can begin putting pressure on the spinal nerve root nearby. This results in inflammation, muscle spasming or tightening and pain (and sometimes pain or tingling into the arm or leg). If the annulus sustains a tear or rupture, then the nucleus can squirt out and smash into the nerve root. This results in extreme pain and often pain or numbness/tingling down one or both legs or arms (a bulging or herniated disc in the neck would cause pain in the arms while a disc dysfunction in the lower back would cause symptoms in the legs).

The movement exercises associated with the McKenzie Method are designed to create a negative pressure that essential draws the nucleus back into the center of the disc. The symptoms then begin to “centralize.” If you were experiencing pain down your leg into your calf you might notice that as you progress the movements that the pain is no longer in your calf and only in the thigh. The more you work with the movements, the more improved the pain becomes and your range of motion and stability improve.

Prevention: During the course of treatment, the person is educated how to prevent and manage future problems with their spine or extremities. A custom maintenance program is designed to deal with sudden attacks of pain.

For more detailed, professional level information about the McKenzie Method, see the McKenzie Institute International website.