McKenzie exercises are extensions of the spine achieved by sitting or standing in correct posture, assuming various positions while lying down on the back or stomach, or flexing the back from a lying, seated or standing position. Qualified physical therapists determine the proper exercises for a condition, according to Spine-health.
Robert McKenzie, a physical therapist in New Zealand, developed the McKenzie Method for back and neck pain in the 1960s, notes Spine-health. He based the McKenzie Method on the notion that the extension of the spine can provide significant pain relief to certain patients. The goal of McKenzie Method exercises is to centralize the pain, moving it away from the extremities, allowing the physical therapist to treat the source of the pain rather than just the symptoms, which can extend to the arms or legs. The McKenzie Method does not include the use of heat, cold or medicine in treatment. If taught properly, the McKenzie Method can equip patients to treat themselves and manage their own pain using the exercises and other treatment strategies.
The specific exercises prescribed to patients depend on the classification of the spinal disorder or condition. Physical therapists perform initial assessments to determine whether patients have a postural syndrome, derangement syndrome or dysfunction syndrome. Attempts to perform McKenzie Method exercises before receiving an assessment may be unsuccessful and have the potential to increase neck or back pain, explains Spine-health.