McKenzie Method

Monday – Friday: 7:30am – 6:00pm

(315) 798-1415

What is the McKenzie Method?

The McKenzie Method is a unique form of therapy built on the philosophy of active patient involvement and education. One of the most distinct components of the therapy is the focus on assessment. The therapist will assess the patient’s movements in order to find distinct patterns of pain responses. This allows the therapist to make an accurate diagnosis and develop an appropriate treatment plan. With the McKenzie Method, rarely are other tests involved which saves time and money. Through the assessment process, a certified McKenzie therapist can quickly identify whether or not the McKenzie Method will work for a particular patient.

Centralization of Pain

The purpose of the McKenzie Method is to eliminate pain and regain full range of motion in the injured area.  McKenzie Therapy can be used to treat spinal conditions, cervical, thoracic and lumbar problems. An important pain response used in the McKenzie Method is centralization. Centralization occurs when a patient’s pain moves to a central location. For example, the patient feels pain running down the leg, but after performing some McKenzie stretches the pain is only felt in the lower back. This is a sign that the therapy is effective because the pain has centralized in the lower back where it is more tolerable. The pain often increases in the center of the spine, but with continued stretching it will go away.

Establishing Directional Preference

Another important element of McKenzie therapy is mechanically determined directional preference. The therapist will determine in which direction the movement stops, reduces, or centralizes the pain. This information will help the therapist prescribe the correct exercises for your problem. The results of performing the exercises correctly are; centralization of the pain, a decrease in the intensity of the pain, and an increase in range of motion.  McKenzie therapy consists of a series of mechanical stretches which load the spine to reduce the symptoms.


Another important component of McKenzie Therapy is self-treatment. Patients learn the appropriate exercises to reduce their pain so they can continue these exercises at home.  Patients need to be compliant and perform the stretches as instructed by their therapist in order for the therapy to be effective. These are exercises that should be done for the rest of your life, just like brushing your teeth.

Our Certified McKenzie Therapists

Slocum-Dickson’s Rehabilitation Department has one Certified McKenzie Therapist; Tom Gallagher, PT, Cert MDT who is specially trained in this unique and highly effective therapy method. This type of therapy has many benefits.

Managing Lower Back Pain

McKenzie Therapy Website