The primary benefit of McKenzie Method lumbar exercises is pain relief. The method lengthens the spine and centralizes the pain, moving the pain from the leg into the lower back because lower back pain is more easily tolerated than leg pain. The approach is based on the theory that centralizing pain allows practitioners to treat the pain source, rather than the symptoms.
The McKenzie Method's long-term goals include teaching patients who suffer from neck and back pain to treat themselves and manage their own pain by using exercise and alternative strategies. In addition, the method aims to reduce pain quickly, return patients to normal function in daily activities, minimize the risk of recurring pain and minimize the number of visits to specialists.
This method is designed to help those patients whose pain can, in fact, centralize. In some patients, like those with lumbar spinal stenosis, extension of the spine may increase, rather than decrease, the pain.
The method classifies spinal disorders based on symptoms and responses to specific assessment procedures. Depending on the classification, practitioners instruct patients to perform specific exercises to slowly centralize or eliminate the pain. Classifications include postural, derangement and dysfunction syndromes.
The first step toward utilizing this approach is to visit a physical therapist trained in the McKenzie method. Certified practitioners appear on McKenzie Institute International's website.