The Physical Performance Show Expert Edition: Professor Stuart McGill – Biomechanist & Lower Back Pain Expert

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Prof. Stuart McGill

In episode 108 of The Physical Performance Show Brad Beer brings you an expert edition and has a conversation with Prof. Stuart McGill – Biomechanist & Lower Back Pain Expert.

On this weeks’ episode we talk through all things, lower back pain and there is no one better credentialed on this planet than today’s featured guest Professor Stuart Mc Gill. Stuart Mc Gill is a professor emeritus in spine bio-mechanics from the University of Waterloo. For 32 years at the University of Waterloo, Professor McGill directed Laboratory Investigations that explored Lower back pain function, injury prevention and rehabilitation and performance training. Professor McGill’s collective work resulted in an incredible 400 scientific publications, which included four textbooks. The first book, Lower Back Disorders Evidenced Space Prevention and Rehabilitation is now up to it’s third Edition and it was written for clinicians like myself as a physiotherapist to guide the decision process when prescribing prevention and rehabilitation approaches. The text book Ultimate Back Fitness and Performance now up to it’s 6th Edition was written for trainers, coaches, athletes and those interested in enhancing the performance of their back while minimising any loss of resilience. In the book titled Back Mechanic – The Secrets to a Healthy Spine that your Doctors isn’t telling you. In this book, Professor McGill outlines a step by step method to help readers fix their back pain. And then most recently Professor McGill paired up with Champion Power Lifter Brian Caroll to author the Gift of Injury, this book guides the Strength Athlete out of pain and back to regaining strength.

In addition to Professor McGills’s many scientific papers and his contribution to the science around all things back by mechanics and lower back pain, Professor McGill also acts as a consultant in difficult back injury cases and provides performance enhancement programs for individual and teams alike. Professor McGill has worked with countless Olympic Champions from around the world in the variety of Sports as well as elite athletes in the NBA, NFL, PGA, NHL and UFC Fighters amongst others. Professor McGill has also been sought out by Presidents and Hollywood celebrities to help them get back to their best lower back fitness.

This expert edition goes for around about 90 minutes. But if you yourself have ever suffered from the debilitating effects of lower back pain or you know someone that has then they’re going to want to do the wisdom that Professor McGill shares in this expert edition.

During the episode we get very practical, we talk about what lower back pain actually is and what other common conditions that we can experience across the lifespan with our spines. We discussed why assessments need to be thorough for back pain suffers. Professor McGill debunks the many lower back pain myths including is stretching of the hamstrings of any use.  We discuss the concept of core stability and Professor McGill gives us a true and accurate definition and why he believes it is fundamental to human movement in an absolute non-negotiable for athletic best performance. Professor McGill refers to examples of stifling athletic development through not allowing rest. We discussed the 2 and half year rehabilitation of Brian Carroll Champion weight lifter who succumbed to a very serious lower back and sacral injury and how Professor McGill helped Brian return to competition and how he became the first man to squat more than 50 times in competition a weight greater than a thousand pounds.

It’s an incredible example of a very nasty injury, it should give anyone listening hope that they too can look forward to enjoying pain free best performance from their lower backs no matter what the degree of injury is that they may have been incurred. We touched on what is important for lower back pain sufferers to determine if they able to have a good day in amongst the bad days.

Professor McGill shares with us his big 3 non-negotiable exercises, the McGill curls, the Bird Dogs and the Side Planks. Finally we talk about why Professor McGill does not believe that drawing in activating transverse abdominus is of any use when it comes to creating stiffness of the spine and finally if you are sit up or a crunch lover for your abdominals we discuss why it is fundamentally doing you harm if you are performing crunches for your spine that is.

There is a whole lot in this episode as we speak with this incredible connoisseur of knowledge when it comes to all things lower back health and ultimate performance of the spine.

To listen to Episode 108:


Click the icon to listen to the interview on iTunes or listen using the soundcloud player below

Don’t forget to SUBSCRIBE at the links to ensure you get performance insights from our future upcoming exciting guests.

Listen in as we delve into the following:

  • Studying at university
  • Back Pain 101
  • The use of MRIs
  • Back conditions that are prevalent
  • Movement of the disc
  • Myths about Back Pain
  • Restoring careers of high level Athletes
  • Bone Callusing
  • Back Extensions
  • Spine hygiene
  • Spine Stability and Core Stability
  • Unpacking Sit-ups
  • Advantageous Exercises
  • Back Fit Pro Books available
  • Back Stiffness and variations

Video – Prof Stuart McGill Podcast

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Prof. Stuart McGill Prof. Stuart McGill


“Now we build the foundation that they need for pain free activity.”
“How the training impeded what they saw.”
“Back Pain is caused by activity that causes stresses in the body.”
“You don’t train to get strong, you train to adapt.”
“Know your goal and then choose a tool to reach the goal in the most spine sparing way.”
“It all goes back to the assessment and knowing the goal.”
“I try to come up with the wisest way to desensitise their pain and build them back up again.”

Back Pain Myths

  1. Pain is non-specific
  2. Stretching will take away back pain
  3. The remaining option is surgery

To follow Professor Stuart McGill:

Twitter: @drstuartmcgill
Facebook: @stuart.mcgill.75
Instagram: @backfitpro

Australian book distributor

Back Mechanic: The Step-by-step McGill Method to fix back pain
Gift of Injury: The strength athlete’s guide to recovering from back injury to winning again
Video Enhanced Back Mechanic
Ultimate Back Fitness and Performance (6th Edition-2017)
Low Back Disorders: Evidence-Based Prevention and Rehabilitation (3rd Edition)

Prof. Stuart McGill Prof. Stuart McGill

People Mentioned

Brian Caroll 
Instagram: @briancarroll81
Website: Power Rack Strength


0:00 Start
1:30 Introduction to Dr Stuart McGill
10:00 Studying at university
16:00 Back Pain 101
22:40 The use of MRIs
27:30 Back conditions that are prevalent
32:00 Movement of the disc
38:30 Myths about Back Pain
45:00 Restoring careers of high level Athletes
55:00 Bone Callusing
1:02:00 Back Extensions
1:07:00 Spine hygiene
1:09:00 Spine Stability and Core Stability
1:22:00 Unpacking Sit-ups
1:31:00 Advantageous Exercises
1:38:00 Back Fit Pro – Book
1:40:30 Back Stiffness and variations
1:43:10 Physical Challenge – Walk 3 x a day for 15 minutes
1:52:00 Finish

Prof. Stuart McGill

Core stability exercise- Bird Dog level 1

Core stability Exercise- Side Bridges

How to perform a McGill Curl (POGO Physio)


For questions and comments about this Episode

Send to the show host @Brad_Beer (Twitter)

The Physical Performance Show Brad Beer

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Showing 8 comments
  • Paul Dyson

    Is something wrong with the sound?
    I can hear you clear Brad but can’t hear the professor

    • Brad Beer

      Hi Paul,

      Yes we had trouble with the video.

      We are fixing the video and will re upload it shortly.

      Apologies for the inconvenience.

      Thank you for your support of the podcast.

      Regards Brad Beer

  • Dynamic Disc Designs

    Thank you for interviewing and getting Prof. McGill excited about what he does. Excellent. Full of clinical gems.

    • Brad Beer

      Thanks very much for your message.

      Dr McGill is a big fan of your models.

      Do you ship to Australia?

      Regards Brad Beer

  • Dion Finocchiaro

    Excellent work Brad. This was really educational and I’ve now listened to all of your expert specials which I ensure to incorporate into my own development as a practitioner. Added with the other great episodes featuring many talented athletes.
    Keep up the great work.

    • Brad Beer

      Hi Dion,

      Thanks for taking the time to leave your feedback. So pleased you have been benefiting from tuning into the Expert Editions. See you at the upcoming Gold Coast Marathon.

      Regards Brad Beer

  • Danny Gonzalez

    Please post the video as soon as you can. Great show. Thanks!

    • Brad Beer

      Hi Danny,

      Apologies for the delay in video being up.

      The video has been live for sometime now.

      In case you missed it here are the show notes:

      Prof Stuart McGill HERE>>

      Regards Brad Beer

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