What is the Mckenzie Stretch Method?
The Mckenzie Method or Mckenzie Stretch Method is an internationally acclaimed method to help reduce joint pain. It was created by a physical therapist Robin Mckenzie for his patients to reduce back pain, neck pain, and other joint problems at home. Most pain of this type is caused by everyday movements and posture. Mckenzie noted from time with his patients that extending the spine was one of the best things one could do for back pain relief. Because he wanted to help his patients, he created a series of exercises and stretches to help patients with back pain be able to fix it on their own. Mckenzie thought that the patient being able to self-treat their own pain was a vital part in his method because it empowered the patient, allowing them to rely on themselves rather than on medication or another form of medical intervention. Some of the benefits of his method is that one can reduce back pain quickly, be able to function normally, reduce the risk of the pain returning, and minimize the number of visits to a physical therapist, chiropractor, or doctor.
The exercises included in his method are a series of progressive positions. These stages might be easy for some to work through quickly but harder for others. Each individual should work through the stages at his or her own pace and only continue on to the next stage if the pain starts to subside.
Is the Mckenzie Stretch Method right for you?
To find out if the Mckenzie Stretch Method is right for you, visit https://mckenzieinstitute.org/patients/is-it-appropriate-for-me/. The stretches and exercises in the method shouldn’t cause pain while doing them, but they should start to reduce your pain. If you start to feel too much pain from doing the stretches, consult your doctor to see if the Mckenzie Stretch Method is right for you.
How to practice the Mckenzie Stretch Method
For more benefits for your back and individualized information and on what poses to do for your back pain, visit a health professional. But if you would like to try some at home first, here are a few examples of the method in use:
1. Lying Face Down
For this exercise, simply rest in the prone position for as long as you’d like. This helps with back pain or sciatica. Relax in this position until you feel ready to move on. If your back is still tight after a long time in this position, repeat this position for a few days until you feel less tight. Then, give the next position a try.
2. Lying Face Down in Extension
Once you can do step one comfortably, try this pose. Start flat on your stomach, then prop yourself up on your elbows. Take some deep breaths and relax. If you feel pain in your spine, buttocks, thigh, or legs, stop. You might not be ready for this position.
3. Extension in Lying
Start this exercise the same as the last two exercises on your stomach. This time, lift yourself up with your hands instead of your elbows. Try to keep your back and hips relaxed. Hold this position for two seconds then rest back down. Repeat this until you feel ready to move on. If your symptoms get worse from doing this exercise, you moved on too quickly.
4. Extension in Standing
You can do this in place of the first three if the first three steps are too hard for you. Stand up straight with your feet shoulder width apart. Place both hands on the small of your back, then slowly bend backwards as far as is comfortable for you. Hold this bent position for a few seconds, release, then repeat until you feel ready to move on.
5. Flexion in Lying
Flexion exercises are used to help with spinal stenosis, lumbar derangement, and lumbar flexion dysfunction. For this exercise, start by lying on your back with your knees bent. Grab your knees with your hands, and slowly pull them to your chest. When you feel ready, pull your knees tightly to your chest for a few seconds then release your legs back down. Repeat as comfortable.
6. Flexion in Sitting
Start by sitting in a chair with your feet wider than shoulder width apart. Slowly bend forward and grab your ankles. Pull your body towards your ankles then release. Repeat as comfortable.
7. Flexion in Standing
Stand with your knees shoulder width apart, and bend forward at your waist. Only go as far as your body will allow you to go. Hold this position for a few seconds then return to standing. Repeat as comfortable.
Need other ideas to reduce back pain and tension?
If you’re struggling with any of these poses or exercises, it might be beneficial for you to try the Chirp Wheel+. The Chirp Wheel+ will help to elongate your spine and release tension in the muscles surrounding your spine. For more information on the Chirp Wheel+, check out gochirp.com.
Sears, B. (2019, November 26). McKenzie Exercises Your Physical Therapist Uses to Treat Low Back Pain. Retrieved from https://www.verywellhealth.com/mckenzie-exercises-for-your-low-back-2696222
SpineOne. (2018, June 19). The Mckenzie Method for Lower Back Pain Relief. Retrieved from https://www.spineone.com/blog/mckenzie-method-back-pain/
The Mckenzie Institute International. (n.d.). The Mckenzie Method of Mechanical Diagnosis and Therapy. Retrieved from https://mckenzieinstitute.org/