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The McKenzie Story

the vision of one man to provide effective, affordable self treatment for life

More than 60 years ago, McKenzie observed an accidental treatment success. He began studying what he had seen and was able to successfully relieve and cure numerous patients. He set out to share his knowledge with the world, and after much perseverance his method became accepted by medical professionals. He changed the way clinicians treat pain but more notably, he empowered patients to treat themselves.

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1953

Robin McKenzie opens his clinic on The Terrace, Wellington - aged 23

Robin McKenzie opens his clinic on The Terrace, Wellington - aged 23

With just 6 months postgraduate experience behind him, Robin was given the opportunity to take over a clinic in Wellington thanks to the incredible generosity of a grateful patient who helped him financially.

1956

A chance discovery that shapes Robin's career and the rest of his life

A chance discovery that shapes Robin's career and the rest of his life

A patient, Mr Smith, with acute and debilitating low back pain and sciatica was accidentally left in an extended position, considered medically dangerous at the time. The pain left his leg, centralised in the low back, was reduced, then disappeared entirely. This triggered Robin to question established medical thinking and began his lifetime of research.

1966

10 years of hard work collecting data

10 years of hard work collecting data

Robin performed detailed analysis of patient responses to a variety of repeated exercise prescriptions, allowing for the development of “direction preference” for Musculoskeletal disorders of the back, neck and extremities. Through the collection of 1000 patient responses per year, Robin develops the McKenzie Method® of Mechanical Diagnosis and Therapy.

1968

The first lumbar roll was made

The first lumbar roll was made

Whilst developing the method Robin discovered appropriate Lumbar support was “vital to my patients, if they were to remain painfree” The first rolls “were made by my wife Joy on our kitchen table.”

1977

Robin’s research turns the head of prominent U.S. orthopaedic surgeon

Robin’s research turns the head of prominent U.S. orthopaedic surgeon

Prominent US orthopaedic surgeon Dr Vert Mooney becomes very enthusiastic about Robin’s method. This was Robin’s big break. Robin’s powerful teaching method of taking live patients and fixing them in front of an audience was unique and left medical professionals stunned.

1979

the mckenzie method entrusted to be taught around the globe

the mckenzie method entrusted to be  taught around the globe

In three years, Robin had taught 43 courses in the USA and was now booked up until 1983. A superb team of teachers was gathered from Robin’s enthusiastic supporters and these people were entrusted to teach also.

1980

Treat your own back is published

Treat your own back is published

Treat Your Own Back is published and to date has sold 4 million copies worldwide in 17 different languages

1981

Robin’s first textbook is published - the Lumbar Spine: Mechanical Diagnosis and Therapy.

Robin’s first textbook is published - the Lumbar Spine: Mechanical Diagnosis and Therapy.

Robin’s first textbook is published - the Lumbar Spine: Mechanical Diagnosis and Therapy.

1982

The McKenzie institute is formed by robin

The McKenzie institute is formed by robin

Robin’s supporters made the decision to collectively organize courses under the umbrella of an institute. The McKenzie Institute International was formed in the USA.

1983

Treat your own neck is published

Treat your own neck is published

The second book in the Treat your Own series is published. “If this book were a pill it would be hailed as the greatest breakthrough in Neck pain ever made.” – Grateful patient.

1985

Honorary fellowship of the NZ society of physios

Honorary fellowship of the NZ society of physios

After many years of ridicule and rejection Robin is finally lauded in New Zealand for his research in the Physiotherapy sector.

1989

First global conference of the McKenzie Institute International

First global conference of the
McKenzie Institute International

A successful first event, the McKenzie Institute is now an esteemed global postgraduate educational body.

1990

Robin is made Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire

Robin is made Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire

A monumental recognition of his determined effort to relieve the suffering of patients by educating them to help themselves.

1993

World trip

World trip

After his success in the USA, Robin is invited to demonstrate his methods all over the world – including Irkutsk Eastern Siberia.

2000

Robin is made companion of the New Zealand order for services to Physiotherapy

Robin is made companion of the New Zealand order for services to Physiotherapy

For distinguished and meritorious service to the art and science of Physiotherapy and to the welfare of mankind.

2004

Survey of Physiotherapists in the USA

Survey of Physiotherapists in the USA

Physiotherapists in the USA were asked “Which physiotherapist of all time had the biggest influence on your thinking or performance in orthopaedic physical therapy?” – Robin McKenzie was voted #1.

2009

Treat Your Own Shoulder is published

Treat Your Own Shoulder is published

Robin co-writes with Grant Watson and Robert Lindsay, respected McKenzie clinicians, the third book in the Treat your Own series – Treat Your Own Shoulder. “I love all these books! Clear concise, simple and effective.”

2009

Against the Tide is published

Against the Tide is published

Robin publishes his autobiography titled ‘Against the Tide – back pain treatment, the breakthrough.’ “ Robin McKenzie’s story is an heroic journey over a profession and personal lifetime.” - Vert Mooney Professor of Orthopaedic surgery University of California.

2011

Robin turns eighty

Robin turns eighty

Robin McKenzie turns 80 and has a fabulous birthday party with many international guests

2012

Treat Your Own Knee published

Treat Your Own Knee published

The fourth book in the Treat your Own series is published with co-authors Grant Watson and Robert Lindsay. “This book helped me immensely. After years of suffering with my knees, I am now pain-free!”

2013

Robin passes – aged 82

Robin passes – aged 82

Hundreds of people come together from around the world to celebrate and mourn the passing of a legend. The physiotherapy world is shocked.

2016

McKenzie Institute International continues to grow.

McKenzie Institute International continues to grow.

Now with branches in 28 countries, the esteemed postgraduate courses are also taught in a further 14 countries.

2019

Treat Your Own Hip is published

Treat Your Own Hip is published

Robins method continues to develop. With the help of Grant Watson and Robert Lindsay the 5th book in the Treat your Own series is published.

About the McKenzie Institute

In 1983 Robin McKenzie founded the McKenzie Institute International® to ensure the orderly development of education and research into the methods he had devised. The unique philosophies and treatments of human musculoskeletal disorders developed by Robin McKenzie are now known and referred to globally as the McKenzie Method® of Mechanical Diagnosis and Therapy® (or MDT).

More about the McKenzie Institute

The McKenzie Method

The McKenzie Method® is based on the premise that most musculoskeletal disorders of the spine and extremities, even chronic, are mechanical in nature, and most importantly that 80% of sufferers are able to treat themselves and avoid recurrence.

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