Back Doc to Athletic Stars: Stuart McGill Interview

I recently had a long talk with Stuart McGill. Nearly 2/3’s of Americans and north of 80% of athletes suffer from low back pain at some point in their lives. Serious athletes are especially susceptible to lower back troubles. McGill has worked with many of the top athletes in the world. We mainly talked about back health with respect to wrestling, MMA and some football. Dr. McGill is a professor emeritus, University of Waterloo, where he was a professor for 32 years. His laboratory and experimental research clinic investigated issues related to the causal mechanisms of back pain, how to rehabilitate back-pained people and enhance injury resilience and performance. This produced over 240 peer-reviewed scientific journal papers, many international awards, and he has mentored over 40 graduate students during this scientific journey. Professor Stuart McGill is considered by many to be the foremost authority in the world on low back pain and rehab.

  1. Assess the patient to determine faulty movement patterns.
  2. Correct the faulty movement patterns to sustainable movement patterns.
  3. Build endurance in the muscle groups responsible for producing excellent quality movement.
  4. Improve agility and strength in the good movement patterns.
  5. Add power to the good movement patterns.


McGill has worked with many of the top athletes in the world. We mainly talked about back health with respect to wrestling, MMA and some football. You can find much of his work all over the internet but you can start here or here or here. McGill’s Books and here.

There is an epidemic of miseducated strength & conditioning coaches that cling to past thinking, poor technique and body mechanics.  This backwards approach is easy to overlook because athletes count on this group of people to know what they’re talking about.  The sad reality is that they don’t and blindly following their protocols can cause lifelong injury that is harder and harder to unravel into the aging process.  Athletes, as with anyone, should question their medical professionals and educate themselves in order to own their bodies and their health.


I know so many college athletes that have really bad trainers and they end up with injury and lifelong physical problems. I know that many of these young athletes really love or like their coaches and trainers but I think they would be well served to do some research and watch this video for starters.

Learn to move the right way for back health and to be a better athlete. It is a rangy and long interview break it up into sections.

Some topics that we cover:

Dynamic and static power

Youth sports

The Big 3


Repetitive back flex in forward and backward rolls? Are neck bridges ok?

Kettle bell, free weights, sit ups

Fascia muscle vs individual muscles

The Psoas Muscle

Injury recovery and prevention


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