McKenzie Exercises for Neck

Back pain and neck pain are common and persistent problems for many. Hence, sufferers often seek physical therapies that will help them to manage their pain. One such method that the sufferers often seek the help from is the McKenzie Method of physical therapy. The McKenzie exercises for neck are a set of exercises that not only treat neck pain, but also cater to a number of spinal problems.

It was in the 1960s that the McKenzie exercises were first introduced, or rather developed by a physical therapist from New Zealand named Robin McKenzie. Though much time has passed since then, the McKenzie exercises still remain one of the most practiced exercises for neck and back pain, or at least form the cornerstone for a number of other therapies.

McKenzie Exercises for Neck

McKenzie Exercises for Neck

Due to continuous force or pressure to the neck, especially the one that is directed only from one direction, pain in the neck often becomes chronic. The McKenzie method offers certain exercises that can heal and treat the chronic neck pain to a great extent. However, if the pain is severe, one must consult a doctor before embarking on this exercising approach. The McKenzie exercises for neck include:

Sitting Chin Tuck McKenzie Exercise for Neck:

This exercise helps in strengthening the upper neck muscles by stretching them. For that you need to –

Sitting Chin Tuck McKenzie Exercise for Neck

  • Sit straight with the gaze focussed in the front.
  • Now, without tilting the neck or head, push your chin downwards, as if you have a double chin.
  • You will feel the stretch in the neck. Hold the position for a count of 10 and then release.
  • You need to repeat this exercise 10 times, thrice a day.

Sitting Neck Extension McKenzie Exercise for Neck:

As you have done the sitting chin tuck, you should proceed on to doing this exercise. The sitting neck extension should never be done without completing the sitting chin tuck beforehand. For this you need to start from the sitting chin tuck position. Then –

Sitting Neck Extension McKenzie Exercise for Neck

  • Tilt the head backwards as far as possible. Make sure that you do not tilt your head forward after completing the sitting chin tuck.
  • The face would be looking upwards, as if looking at the sky.
  • Now in this backward tilted position, slightly turn your head right and left half inches.
  • Repeatedly turn the head right and left, while trying to tilt it farther backwards.
  • Return to the chin tuck position and repeat this exercise 10 times a day.

McKenzie Side Bending Exercise for Neck:

This exercise too will start from the chin tuck position. You need to –

McKenzie Side Bending Exercise for Neck

  • Keep the gaze straight forward and then bend the head sideways, so that the ear touches your shoulder.
  • Hold the position for a few seconds and repeat on the opposite side.
  • This exercise should be done for 10 times on each side and should be repeated thrice a day.

Neck Rotation McKenzie Exercise:

Start with your chin tucked and then –

Neck Rotation McKenzie Exercise

  • Turn the head towards your left at first, without changing your gaze. Always have your gaze fixed in front of you.
  • Feel the stretch and hold the position for a few seconds.
  • Repeat on the other side.
  • Neck rotation too should be done thrice a day, for 10 times on each side.

Neck Flexion McKenzie Exercise:

Have your chin tucked in and then –

Neck Flexion McKenzie Exercise

  • Drop your head towards your chest.
  • Raise your hands and interlock your finger at the back of your head in such a way that the elbows point downwards.
  • The weight of the hands will put pressure on the head and help you feel the stretch at the back of your neck.
  • The farther you push your head towards the chin, the greater stretch will be felt. This too should be repeated for 10 times, thrice a day.

Shoulder Shrugs McKenzie Exercises for Neck:

For this McKenzie exercise, start from the chin-tuck position and then –

Shoulder Shrugs McKenzie Exercises for Neck

  • Then, slowly inhale and lift the shoulders close to the ears, as much as you can.
  • Hold your breath for 10 seconds and exhale slowly.
  • Return to the starting position and inhale again.
  • Repeat 10 times for 3 times a day.

Returning to normal daily activities is prompted by the McKenzie exercises. However, if you cannot follow the methods or if you have some queries, you need to consult a McKenzie expert professional regarding how you should be doing these exercises and which of these would be more helpful for you.

Goal of McKenzie Exercises

The approach that is used for the McKenzie exercises or therapy is to “centralize” the pain of a patient to the back, by moving it away from the arms and legs. The theory behind this is that back pain is better tolerated than arm pain and leg pain. As the pain is centralized, it becomes easier to treat its source; rather than simply catering to its symptoms.

The basic approach to the McKenzie exercises includes self-treatment and self-healing. There is no use of any passive modalities like –

  • Cold compression
  • Heat compression
  • Medicine
  • Ultrasound
  • Needles.

Simply by using McKenzie exercises, the patients can manage, as well as treat their pains. With the practice of the McKenzie exercises, one can –

  • Reduce the extremity of the pain quickly
  • Avoid postures and movements that can be painful or be instrumental in bringing the pain back
  • Get back to normal life faster and do usual daily activities
  • Reduce the number of visits to the doctor for pain management.

6 Mckenzie Exercises for Neck Pain Relief

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:April 3, 2018

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