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Author - Anastasia Belikov, PT, Cert. MDT
Graduated with her DPT in 2017

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Self-Treatment With the McKenzie Method


Wednesday, April 27, 2022

The MDT system is designed to identify the mechanical problem, develop a plan to correct or improve the mechanics, and thereby, decrease or eliminate the pain and functional problems. In the simplest terms, this may mean that moving in one direction may provoke and worsen the pain, while moving in the opposite direction may eliminate the pain and restore function.

While using this self-treatment guide is easiest and most likely beneficial, be aware that some 10-15% of people will not see a promising response to this simplified exercise sheet. The aim of the exercises is not to strengthen, but to produce mechanical changes that help you diagnose your problem. Then, eliminate the pain and restore normal function.

To understand the maximum benefit of the exercises, treat them like a science experiment – you only introduce one variable at a time. Please stop any other exercises that you may have been shown before, or are doing regularly.

See a qualified clinician or physical therapist near me if your symptoms increase and worsen after the exercises over 2 consecutive days.

Four things to look for while doing the exercises:

1. First few movements may be painful, but with repetition, you will move further and further before pain is felt

2. Symptoms may disappear

3. May cause an increase or decrease in pain intensity

4. May cause pain to move to another location

Centralization – the movement of pain towards a more central location (thigh to hip to back). If you experience this, you are exercising correctly with the correct exercise program.

Peripheralization – the movement of pain away from a more central location (back to thigh to foot). If you experience this, you are exercising incorrectly with the incorrect exercise program.

You should not attempt this exercise program in any of the following situations:

  • If you have severe pain in the leg below the knee, have weakness, numbness, or pins and needles in the foot and toes

  • If you developed low back pain following a recent accident

  • If you developed bladder problems following a recent episode of low back pain

  • If you are feeling generally ill with this episode of low back pain

  • If you have a history of cancer or tumors

  • If you have a fever, or start sweating

  • If you develop any other symptoms in addition to the low back pain

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, or have doubts after reading this checklist, please seek advice from your doctor.

Self-Treatment With the McKenzie Method
MVMT Physical Therapy Mobility Class

Mobility and Flexibility Class

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