Treating Neck Pain With The McKenzie Method

The McKenzie Method was developed in the 1960’s by Robin McKenzie, a physical therapist in New Zealand. While much time has passed since then, his exercises still form the cornerstone of treatment for both neck and back pain. What follows are his core exercises for treating neck pain.His book, currently in its fifth edition is available at chapters .

From Robin MacKenzie’s book Treat Your Own Neck

Below are the six “golden” exercises from Robin McKenzie’s book, Treat Your Own Neck. These exercises should give relief from most types of neck pain as well as prevent recurrence of future episodes. Always consult with a medical health professional before embarking on any series of exercises if your pain is severe or if these exercises exacerbate your pain.

Sitting Chin Tuck: For strengthening and stretching the upper neck muscles and combating forward head posture.

  • Sit facing forward. Keep your head level and your neck straight.
  • Tuck your chin as if you were making a double chin while maintaining a forward gaze. Don’t’ let the head tilt up or down.
  • Feel the stretch and hold for a count of 10.
  • Repeat 10 times, 3 times a day.
  • This Youtube video illustrates this important core exercise.

Sitting Neck Extension: Extending means bending backwards. This exercise should always follow the sitting chin tuck.

  • Start from the chin tuck position.
  • Lift your chin up and tilt your head backwards as if looking at the sky. Do not allow your head to move forwards.
  • With your head tilted back as far as possible, repeatedly turn your head a half inch to the right and then to the left . Each time you turn this small amount, try to move your head and neck even farther back.
  • Do this 10 times in each direction and return to the starting chin tuck position.
  • Repeat 10 time, 3 times a day.
  • Keeping your shoulders relaxed, tilt your head towards your shoulder. Feel the stretch and hold for the count of 10.
  • Repeat 10 times, 3 times a day.

Side-bending:

  • Start from the chin tuck position.
  • Bend your head sideways, keeping your eyes forward, moving your ear toward your shoulder, and keeping your chin tucked.
  • For even greater stretch, bring the arm of the shoulder toward which you are bending across your head and pull the head toward the shoulder even more.
  • Hold for a few second, and return to an upright position.
  • Repeat on the opposite side.
  • Do 10 reps on each side, 3 times a day.

Neck rotation:

  • Start from the chin tuck position.
  • Keeping your shoulders relaxed and your chin tucked, turn your head far to your left and feel the stretch. Hold 10 seconds.
  • To add more stretch, bring your left hand to your chin and place your right hand on the back of your head to gently but firmly push your head into even further rotation.
  • Repeat to the right.
  • Do 10 reps on each side, 3 times a day.

Neck flexion:

  • Start from the chin tuck position.
  • Drop your head forward and rest your chin as close as possible on your chest.
  • Place your hands behind your head and interlock the fingers.
  • Let your arms relax and so that the elbows point toward the floor. The weight of your arms will provide stretch.
  • For more stretch, gently but firmly pull your head even closer to your chest.
  • Return to the starting position.
  • Do 10 reps, 3 times a day.

Shoulder Shrugs:

  • Start from the chin tuck position.
  • Inhale and slowly lift the top of your shoulders towards your ears.
  • Hold for 10 seconds and slowly exhale.
  • Slowly, return to the starting position.
  • Do 10 reps, 3 times a day.

For more information on neck pain check out my other articles on this topic-  Neck Pain  and Tingling in the Arms and hands

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