McKenzie Technique

Posted On: June 26, 2014

I am Dr. David A. Johnson and I am licensed as both a chiropractic physician and as a physical therapist in Illinois. I am the owner and Director of Clinics at North Shore Spinal & Sports Rehabilitation located in Highland Park and Lake Bluff.

Way back in the early 90’s I attended a seminar given by Dr. Gary Jacob on the McKenzie approach to managing lower back pain. This was an eye opening experience for me as a chiropractic physician. The McKenzie approach emphasized a mechanical way of thinking about lower back pain and used specific movements to centralize a patient’s pain complaints and then used these same movements to eradicate them.

The McKenzie approach was started by Robin McKenzie, a physical therapist who practiced in Australia. He observed that patients responded to certain movement patterns better than the conventional therapies he was employing. It started by a fortunate accident where he asked a chronic low back pain sufferer to lie down face first on a table that put the patient into extension (a backwards bend). At the time this was thought to be bad for patients with lower back pain. McKenzie came upon the patient after he had been in this position for a long while and was scared that he may have hurt the patient. When he asked the patient to get up, both were amazed that the patients problem had resolved. This got McKenzie thinking that certain movements and positions may help patients and other movements may perpetuate their problems.

He developed a whole system of assessment based on the movements that centralize and/or spread (peripheralize) a patient’s pain complaint. His approach has helped thousands of lower back pain sufferers manage their problems. Dr. Jacob had the good fortune to actually study under McKenzie and was the first chiropractor allowed to teach his techniques.

As a young chiropractic physician I was fortunate enough to have attended this lecture. I learned the fundamentals of the approach and started applying them to my patient’s problems. I have subsequently taken other McKenzie courses and read his books. Incorporating these techniques into my practice has allowed me to help thousands of people manage their pain over the years. I am truly grateful to Dr. Jacob and Robin McKenzie for their enlightening me as to this approach.

In my opinion the McKenzie approach is even more powerful when combined with good manual therapy and exercises used to strengthen and stabilize ones spine. This combined approach, I believe is the better mousetrap that has helped North Shore Spinal & Sports Rehabilitation better serve it’s patient’s needs and help them to achieve their personal goals.

To learn more about our practice visit us at To schedule an appointment, please call our Lake Forest, Lake Bluff office at 847.295.0920, or our Highland Park office at 847.432.4077. 

You may also use our online Request an Appointment form.


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