SMP 103: Back Mechanic: The Step By Step MCGILL Method To Fix Back Pain
Today’s guest is Dr. Stuart McGill, a leading professor of spine biomechanics at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada. Dr. McGill has written three books on the back, he runs a laboratory that runs all sorts of tests on spines, and he is NOT a fan of sit-ups or crunches.
Dr. McGill teaches classes and sessions on the movement of the back. Doctors, therapists, and trainers from all the world attend his sessions and is considered the world’s #1 spine expert.
Having been a professor for over 30 years he has has a very different perspective on spine function and it’s turned out to be extremely helpful for doctors, athletes and everyday people.
He works to reduce back injuries and helps to heal back injuries. He went from the scientific world to back assessment. He experiments to find the mechanism that will make the pain better or worse. Then he can prescribe a precise training session.
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Today’s topics include:
- What happens to the spine when military personnel carry heavy loads on their backs?
- Different people have different body types suitable for different activities. A load that creates a beneficial adaptation for one person, can create an injury for another.
- To avoid injury load the spine in a stacked posture.
- A better training session might be a body balancing exercise like a suitcase carry or a bottoms up kettlebell carry. With a still in control core.
- The military creates an iron will
- Is tabbing or rucking a good activity? The individual needs to be assessed. Some people it may be appropriate for, but if they aren’t very fit then it wouldn’t be good. A certain foundation is required. It depends on the individual.
- Couch potatoes don’t stress their back and get back pain
- People who do poor form at the gym loosen the collagen under the disk, and now sitting becomes painful, to recover they have to pay attention to their movements throughout the day and be more pristine in their movements
- Most important role of trainer is to coach the client with posture and movement
- Don’t take a person to fatigue if they break form
- Establish scientific principles of movement and fitness health
- A power lifter must create a stiff spine to bear heavy loads
- A flexible spine for gymnastics requires flexibility, gymnasts do bodyweight exercises, size matters a thin branch bends a thick branch gets more stress to bend, heavy boned people need to pay attention to loaded spine bends
- Great athletes don’t create spine power, they create hip power and transfer it through the spine
- Loaded spine flexion and flexion stresses should be avoided during training, establishing a training tolerance, slowly may reintroduce unloaded bending
- Get more mobility in the hips and lock the back
- McGill has been able to recover the careers of a couple of MMA fighters by limiting spine flexion training
- Jefferson curls can fire off a stretch receptor that can make back pain come back, it can also thwart ability to bear load, a slender body weight gymnastics body can use the Jefferson curl
- Power lifters want more stiffness, elastics and muscle driving activity can power the deadlift
- Mobility can reduce the ability to bear load
- Sit-ups will increase risk of injury, they don’t create core health and stability
- McGill consulted with the military and it takes an act of Congress to get military training changed
- Use the core to stop motion, not create motion
- Replace situps with planks and stir the pot exercises
- Golf is placed with pulsed exercise on a thinner spine
- Football or rugby players have a big thick spine and are less mobile
- Choose one or the other
- They learned principles from controlled animal studies and then transferred it to human models
- Back pain is triggered by something, trainers and movement experts need to assess their clients with variables of movements
- Back Mechanic is written for the lay public – it guides the reader through a self assessment of their pain triggers
- It also shows how to create training resiliency and create a pain free foundation
- Understand the triggers of back pain, and lock in to your client and work on coaching proper movement
Links and resources:
“Walking is a unique exercise as far as the spine goes” Dr. Stuart McGill
“Standing on one leg you must activate the obliques, this is often a missing strength” Dr. Stuart McGill
“The trainer’s role is to assess the person and find out what the appropriate exercise is” Dr. Stuart McGill
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