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Dr. Stu McGill: How To Fix Your Back Pain

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I loved this one.

Dr Stuart Mcgill, professor emeritus at University of Waterloo for 30 years, clinician and researcher is THE man to follow about fixing your back pain. He works with athletes and general population, covering the principles to cure your back problems and sciatica. He’s published over 240 papers, and written several books about back pain. Here he covers how to fix your lower back pain with a systematic and individualised approach.

This year we’re seeing a lot of sitting in makeshift home offices and gyms being opened and closed unpredictably. This has contributed to more people experiencing back pain.

In this episode, we are lucky to have the authority, a master of his craft. Dr. Stu McGill is an academic, laboratory, clinician, researcher and a professor at the University of Waterloo of 30 years.

He has a clear framework and takes a nuanced approach to back pain.

We cover:

How to cure your back pain:

  • What is the back’s capacity for recovery?
  • Is ‘pain-free’ a realistic goal? Does this equate to healed tissue?

Dr McGill’s approach to assessing back pain:

  • Mimicking the movement patterns of pain-free populations

Does Hanging help with back pain?

  • “The perfect storm” of powerlifting + yoga/gymnastics
  • Reconciling overcoming the threat response following injury
  • Stiffness vs looseness
  • How to generate stiffness in someone who is hypersensitised
  • Percussive massage devices: Do theraguns help with back pain?
  • Does Sleeping on the floor cure back pain? [Spoiler – it depends]
  • What not to do
  • Rules of thumb with flexion vs extension-intolerant pain?
  • A guide to buying Dr McGill’s books
  • Dr McGill’s mental models for success, why he doesn’t know how to log in to facebook:

Find out more from Dr McGill here.

He has written a number of books on back pain, but the one I’d recommend as the most practical is Back Mechanic with included video guides. To escape your back pain for the price of a book is a miracle. Absolutely well worth it.

If you’re a clinician and want to take your knowledge further, I’d recommend Ultimate Back Fitness and Performance. It’s not for the faint hearted, but it is truly the definitive resource on back pain for athletes from a practitioner’s perspective. The depth and density of gems that his books contain are ridiculous.