The McKenzie Philosophy
The McKenzie approach has been used by chiropractors for decades now ever since Robin McKenzie formalized his principles of pain management based on his own research. The breakthrough occurred when a patient named “Smith” unexpectedly found his pain significantly reduced when he was in a position that was at the time considered unhealthy. McKenzie then applied his nascent theories to other patients and what he learned has now become a vital concept in modern physical therapy today.
The McKenzie philosophy is more about an approach to back and neck pain rather than a specific set of exercises. Robin McKenzie always maintained that pain could be reduced only through active involvement of the patient and not by passive techniques such as cold or hot compresses. While patients might need guidance initially, the ultimate aim is to ensure that they can take care of themselves.
The central theory of McKenzie’s principles was the concept that spinal extension was a primary technique for pain management. Since only the patient knows the exact sort of pain he or she is undergoing, the specific postures cannot be dictated solely by the physician. The main tenet of the McKenzie technique is a concept known as centralization whereby the patient attempts to extend his or her muscles in such a way that the pain experienced “goes back” to the center of the back. Centralized back pain is preferable to pain that radiates away to the legs, stomach, or shoulders.
Each patient has a different direction towards which they must lean to obtain this relief and this is called “Directional Preference.”
The McKenzie exercises revolve around a system of classification to accurately diagnose the cause of the patients pain. The three classifications are:
- Postural: Problems caused due to the stress of soft tissue caused by incorrect posture
- Dysfunction: Pain caused due to tissue being shortened because of scars
- Derangement: Change in the position of the vertebrae due to fluid imbalances in the discs
The classifications are determined by pain responses in various patients which enables physicians to arrive at an accurate assessment.
The McKenzie exercises depend on this classification with each type receiving different treatment.
McKenzie Certified Doctors
The McKenzie Institute International certifies McKenzie providers in the McKenzie techniques. The offices are present in 26 countries and even where it is not present, courses are available. It is a 16 day course and is a thorough elucidation of the McKenzie principles which culminates in a certification exam.