McTimoney Therapy Explained ...

by Lucy Bounden, MAA member and owner of Animal Spine

There are many forms of chiropractic approaches and techniques used around the world and McTimoney is a form of treatment which originated in the UK from a chiropractor named John McTimoney. He devised a holistic (whole body) chiropractic method applying engineering principles to the examination and treatment of the skeletal structure. Rather than using large, forceful manipulations he sought to achieve a technique which would create realignment of the skeleton that would be comfortable for the patient to receive. In 1954 John McTimoney formulated chiropractic analysis and treatment for animals and he is believed to be the first chiropractor to do this.

You may be familiar with the hand position which is associated with McTimoney therapy - see image opposite page bottom left.

The McTimoney approach involves taking a detailed case history, whole body static and dynamic assessment of the patient followed by gentle, swift, light force manipulation. From an animal therapy perspective it is extremely important that the treatment is gentle as this means that manipulation can be administered with as little stress to the animal as possible. In human practice a therapist is able to explain what they are about to do to a patient and if an adjustment may cause discomfort. However this is not an option in animal practice and as an animal therapist we have to gain trust from the animal. McTimoney treatment offers a gentle approach to animal manipulation which keeps all parties secure and safe during treatment, resulting in effective practice. The nervous system controls the whole body, if we are able to gain mental relaxation from the patient we can create a positive physical response which is paramount to the effectiveness of such treatments.

McTimoney treatment is based on the principle that pain and discomfort within the musculoskeletal system (with the elimination of injury and disease by a vet) is caused by abnormal functioning of the spinal column. This may be an area of the skeleton which has become restricted resulting in a reduced range of movement and muscle tightness or spasm. It can also be when a joint has become hypermobile, thereby producing pain and discomfort in the associated soft tissue structures as a result.

When considering spinal anatomy and the close proximity of the nerves exiting from the spinal column, areas of restriction or hyper mobility can cause potential impingements on the nervous system. This can result in severe pain and possibly adverse behavioural symptoms. Specialised manipulations at specific locations of the spine, in a certain direction and velocity, stimulate the nervous system to respond allowing the soft tissue to relax and the skeleton to realign. This greatly reduces the tension and discomfort within the musculoskeletal system. By treating the whole body from head to tail in this way it helps to improve the entire symmetry and balance of that patient. In light of this McTimoney treatment can benefit a wide range of patients for compensatory/lameness issues, performance enhancement, general well being, direct trauma/ injury with significant results.


Dog - Henry

Age - 5yr old

Breed - Jack Russell Terrier

History - Henry is a family pet and during his usual play with a tennis ball he jumped up and twisted through his body landing hard on his hind legs. At first he seemed OK but the following day he was in significant pain and unable to move freely. A trip to the vet confirmed that there were no fractures but he had severely strained his lower back and his muscles were in spasm. Painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs were administered. These helped but he still had an unbalanced, stiff gait and wasn’t his usually bouncy self.

McTimoney treatment - With veterinary approval McTimoney therapist, Lucy Bounden initial assessment concluded that there was a large rotation and tilt in Henry’s pelvis to the right which was likely caused by the impact through the hindlimbs when Henry landed awkwardly when catching the ball. In compensation his lumbar spine were rotated to the right, upper thoracic vertebrae rotated left, lower cervicals to the left and upper cervicals to the right. Such misalignments along his spine caused the soft tissue structures to become tight and sore resulting in restricted movement and unhappy dog. McTimoney adjustments to the relevant areas of the spine and pelvis alongside soft tissue massage were used to treat Henry’s condition. Henry had a total of 3 McTimoney treatments over a period of 5 weeks which improved his skeletal alignment and restored him back to his normal self.


Horse - Ellie

Age - 17 year old

Breed - Thoroughbred x

History - In November 2015 Ellie injured her suspensory ligament in the right fore and despite following an advised rest period, she was still lame in trot, although sound in walk in September 2016. Her loanee, Sarah, under veterinary advice was currently walking her out with short periods of trot in order to strengthen it. The lameness was worse on the right rein in the school but after ten minutes she moved a lot better. Sarah had also noticed that when bringing Ellie out of the stable, her back end was really stiff too

McTimoney Treatment - On assessment from McTimoney therapist, Nikki Routledge, gait analysis revealed that Ellie was moving with her right hip much lower than the left when observing the pelvis. Treatment focused on rebalancing the pelvis which was found to be markedly rotated down on the right side with the lumbar spine L2-5 curved right and upper back T7-9 curved left in a compensatory pattern. The soft tissue structures were tighter along the right side through the paravertebral long back muscles and gluteal region of the hindquarters.

It was also noted that in spite of the original injury presenting in the right fore with an associated splint, there was greater filling in the left fore.

Within two days of treatment there was a marked improvement of her soundness in trot, as reported by the owner Jo Elgar (a trained Equine Massage Therapist). In this case the asymmetry of the whole body was having a significant effect on the presentation of lameness symptoms from the previous injury. McTimoney treatment was invaluable in reinstating correct spinal mobility and comfort, enabling a rehabilitation programme to progress properly without continued compensatory movement patterns, thereby improving the long term prognosis.


The McTimoney Animal Association (MAA) is the governing body for Animal Mctimoney therapists and has over 100 members. All members have completed a Post Graduate Diploma or Masters in Animal Manipulation from the McTimoney Chiropractic College.

The Association represents professional standards for its members by maintaining a professional code of ethics, full indemnity insurance, work under veterinary permission and requirements for continued professional development (CPD).

The MAA is at the forefront of animal therapy research constantly pushing research forward. Recently there has been published work in the Journal of Veterinary Science & Technology (7) and Journal of Veterinary Behaviour: Clinical Applications and Research Sept/Oct 2016. Research has been presenting at prestigious International conferences including at 3rd International Veterinary Congress, London, August 2016 and at International Society for Equitation Science conference, Saumur, France, June 2016.

To read more on our research and to find a McTimoney therapist please visit -



Lucy Bounden