The Method

The McKenzie Method® of
Mechanical Diagnosis and Therapy® (MDT)

MDT Certification: Why It Is Important for Practitioners

With the increasingly favorable research supporting the McKenzie Method® of Mechanical Diagnosis and Therapy® (MDT) and growing number of referring physicians, insurance groups and consumers across the country seeking certified McKenzie practitioners, The McKenzie Institute® International, holding all rights of the intellectual property of Robin McKenzie’s work and methodology, has taken an active role in quality control and verification of this information to the public. Currently, 28 branches worldwide have been sanctioned as sole providers of this post-graduate training and certification.

The core Program of Certification in the McKenzie Method has long been established as a comprehensive curriculum and process of learning the MDT system, not as individual courses separate unto themselves. Currently, the only measurement and standard to recognize basic clinical competency of a practitioner’s knowledge and skill using the McKenzie Method is having completed four courses and passed the Institute’s written and practical Credentialing Examination. Once Credentialed in MDT, attainment of the Diploma indicates that the practitioner has met additional requirements established by The McKenzie Institute International, including attending a 360-hour clinical residency training program, and passing advanced written and practical examinations. Attainment of the Diploma in MDT is recognition of achievement to the highest level in The McKenzie Institute post-graduate educational program and excellence in the practical application of the McKenzie Method. Additionally, The McKenzie Institute USA furthers the knowledge and skill of orthopaedic manual physical therapy for those elite clinicians who pursue the Fellowship Program.

Thus, with these high standards for education, it is imperative that only those who have successfully passed the Credentialing Exam, at minimum, promote themselves as qualified practitioners of the McKenzie Method. Unless Credentialed or Diplomaed in MDT (Cert. MDT or Dip. MDT) promoting themselves publically or to fulfill a physician prescription for MDT or the McKenzie Method is considered highly inappropriate and misleading to the public.

While it still remains impossible for the Institute to determine whether the practitioner uses MDT as the foundation for patient evaluation and maintains commitment to the integrity of the MDT system in the clinic, assuring they have passed an examination is prudent.

How Does the McKenzie Method Work?
MDT is a systematic approach to examination and evaluation for patient management that applies to acute, subacute and chronic conditions of the spine and the extremities, and it provides the foundation to direct appropriate treatment options emphasizing patient empowerment and self-treatment. Its greatest success lies in the practitioner being fully trained and committed to the integrity of the system.

Step 1: Active Examination: Listening to a patient’s detailed history and with their active involvement using repeated movements or positions during the unique MDT examination process, the clinician establishes a clear direction with a solid baseline to develop an individualized management plan.

Step 2: Dynamic Diagnosis: Patients will be prescribed specific exercises and given guidance for appropriate postures and behaviors to adopt or temporarily avoid outside the clinic. The clinician can quickly re-evaluate from the baseline and observing how their symptoms and range of movement changes to maintain the course or modify the plan. This may include hands-on techniques as needed.

Step 3: Reliable Intervention: By learning how to self-treat a current impairment, patients gain practical knowledge to minimize the risk of recurrence and rapidly deal with symptoms if they do recur.

Prevention is the ultimate goal and patient education is a chief component with MDT.


Physical therapy providers: Learn more about the McKenzie Method here.

Patients: Check out an overview and frequently asked questions here.