Research shows that 39% of adults suffer from back pain. Adults over 65 with a lower income were much more likely to develop back pain in the future.

If you struggle with back pain, you may have heard about the McKenzie method. This method has been recognized as one of the most effective methods for treating lower back pain. 

Back pain can be debilitating depending on the severity and the location. Back pain can make daily activities difficult, which is why treatment is necessary.

Keep reading to find out how the McKenzie method helps with back pain.

What is the McKenzie Method?

The McKenzie method for back pain is a series of maneuvers and exercises. Its long-term goal is to treat patients who suffer from neck pain, back pain, or a combination.

The McKenzie Method was developed in the 1960s by Robin McKenzie, a physical therapist in New Zealand. In his practice, he noted that extending the spine could provide significant pain relief to certain patients and allow them to return to their normal daily activities.

The approach uses a series of progressive positions to relieve any pain. Physical therapy and exercise are used to extend the spine and can help “centralize” the pain by moving it away from the extremities (leg or arm) to the back. These exercises can be used in stages if you are starting out with severe pain or lack of mobility. 

This self-treatment approach also helps to reduce reliance on passive modalities, which may provide temporary relief but do not address the underlying cause of the problem. Instead, the McKenzie Method focuses on identifying and correcting mechanical imbalances in the body through specific exercises and movements. By addressing these underlying issues, patients can achieve long-term pain relief and improved function without relying on medication or other passive treatments.

The long-term goal of the McKenzie Method is to equip patients suffering from neck pain and/or back pain with the knowledge and tools needed to maintain physical health throughout their lives.

It is important to meet with a professional to receive an initial consultation. Your physician will then create an assessment to understand what McKenzie method exercises best fit your needs. 

What Causes Back Pain

To best treat back pain, it is important to better understand the root cause of the pain. The origin could be muscle or ligament strain, repeated heavy lifting, or a sudden awkward movement that strained back muscles or spinal ligaments.

An experienced chiropractor will want to find the source of the problem before deciding on a customized treatment plan.

Here are some more examples of what could cause back pain.

Structural Problems

It is very common for structural problems to develop into back pain. This could be the result of something you were born with, such as scoliosis.

You may have a misaligned spine or discs that aren’t where they are supposed to be. A small structural problem has the possibility to develop into severe pain.

Visiting a chiropractor on a regular basis can help with abnormalities and structural issues that need relief.


Another common cause of back pain is an injury to your back. This could be a sprain or strain, herniated or bulging disc, or a more severe injury like a fractured vertebra. 

The spine is very important, and there are many vital nerves around it. This is why something like the McKenzie method is a good choice for long-term results. Generally, treatment will be geared towards restoration of function, correct movement patterns, patient education in positioning, and protection while your injury heals

Lifestyle Factors

There are also different lifestyle factors that may contribute to back pain. Poor posture is a good example of this, and this can be something that most individuals struggle with.

Other lifestyle factors that contribute to back pain include:

  • a job that may require frequent lifting or bending and other repetitive motions
  • sitting or standing for extended periods of time 
  • hunching over your laptop during the day or sitting in a crouched position
  • sleeping in a bad position at night 

Your chiropractor will be able to give you an assessment and recommendations for ways you can treat lifestyle factors contributing to back pain.

How the McKenzie Method is Assesed 

Assessment is a crucial step in determining the root cause of any medical issue. In the case of Mechanical Diagnosis and Therapy (MDT), the assessment process is particularly thorough and detailed. 

During an MDT assessment, your physician will take a comprehensive history of your symptoms and how they manifested. They will also ask you to perform specific movements and adopt certain positions while carefully observing and questioning how your symptoms are affected. 

What sets MDT apart from other assessments is the use of repeated movements rather than a single movement. By analyzing how your symptoms and range of motion change with these repeated movements and positions, the physician gains valuable insights into the nature of your problem. 

This information is then used to develop a personalized treatment plan that addresses the root cause of your issue rather than just treating the symptoms. With MDT, you can be confident that you are receiving a thorough and effective assessment that will lead to targeted and successful treatment.

The McKenzie Method for Back Pain

Living with back pain can be debilitating, frustrating, and painful. The McKenzie method may be the right option for you if you are looking to gain more control over your treatment and want the opportunity to take your health into your own hands.

Are you interested in getting back pain treatment options? Contact us today at The Spine Center for a consultation.


  • by Richard Bleiberg
    Posted August 7, 2023 8:51 pm

    I can pinpoint the exact before/after moment which changed my life for the worse. In late 2007, I did a sitting leg press pushing way too much weight, and I could feel my iliac bone (if there is such a thing) slip. Before this bad exercise, despite my girth, my back was never a problem. Ever since, I can’t walk a few steps without breathing heavily until I sit down again. You can imagine how much this has negatively impacted my life. I have always suspected that an exercise that is physiologically the exact inverse of the bad exercise that triggered my whole problem is the key to getting back to my old self, and it seems like a good possibility that the McKenzie Method may very well help me pinpoint that rehabilitative inverse.

    • by Spine Center
      Posted September 5, 2023 11:38 pm

      Living with back pain can be debilitating, frustrating, and painful. If you are interested in getting back pain treatment options feel free to contact us today for a consultation.

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