The McKenzie Method was discovered in 1956 when Mr Smith, suffering from back and leg pain for 3 weeks, visited his physiotherapist, Robin McKenzie.
On arrival, Mr Smith was instructed to lie down in spare treatment room until Robin could see him.
Mr Smith did exactly this, but one end of the table had been elevated, so he lay on his tummy bent backwards (extended).
When Robin entered the room, 10 minutes later, he was concerned to see Mr Smith lying in this position and assumed his pain would be worse as a result. Surprisingly, when Robin asked how Mr Smith was feeling, he replied “This is the best I’ve felt in three weeks”.
Upon returning to the standing position Mr Smith reported that instead of feeling pain in the back and down the leg, he was now only feeling mild pain in the centre of the lower back (centralisation). Using this position as a treatment (directional preference), Mr Smith went on to make a rapid recovery. Interestingly, Robin had previously been treating Mr Smith, for several weeks, with massage and manipulation, but Mr Smith had failed to respond. Naturally, this discovery got Robin thinking!
Robin, or perhaps Mr Smith, had discovered 3 very important things that everyone with back or neck pain should know!
Over the following years MDT (The McKenzie Method) was significantly expanded upon and developed into as system of assessment and treatment aimed at identifying patients who can rapidly reverse their symptoms with the application of a single direction of movement. Typically, the movement that reduces and eliminates the pain is performed 10-15 times, after which pain remains better.
To be eligible to study MDT, a health professional must first hold a health science degree in physiotherapy, chiropractic, clinical myotherapy or osteopathy and have a minimum of 2 years clinical experience.
Training in the McKenzie Method is provided by the McKenzie Institute International and culminates in a comprehensive 7 – 8 hour examination. Therapists who have successfully completed this exam are referred to as Credentialed McKenzie or MDT therapists.