Dan – USA

Dr. McGill,

I’ve had back problems since I was 12 years old. I threw the discus and shotput in high school and college and continued having back problems throughout my college career. I gave up the sport at 22 because the combination of track and graduate studies at XXX were too much.

I continued to have back problems. I ruptured a disk at age 38 and had back surgery. My physician gave me the usual advice about not overdoing it. At age 45, I began throwing the discus again. For several years, my back hurt so badly that it hurt to pick up the discus from the field.

At age 48, I attended a lecture by Dr. Stuart McGill on back stabilization, which changed my life. I changed my training to whole body lifts and back stabilization exercises. Except for minor flareups, I’ve had few back problems in 12 years. I’ve won 9 straight US masters discus championships, 3 gold medals in the world games, a world championships and three other medals in world championships. I am throwing better at age 60 than at age 50. I train as hard now as I did when I was 20.

I’ve completely changed my approach to strength training. I used to love doing bench presses (I benched 450 lb at age 22 and 390 at age 54). I no longer do that exercise. I purchased a functional training machine from Life Fitness and do almost all strength exercises from a standing position (standing chest presses, standing rows with squats, discus simulations, deadlifts, standing hammer twists). I also purchased an adjustable dumbbell set from Bowflex and do one arm snatches, thrusters, and swings. And, I do front squats and snatches with an Olympic set and kettlebells that I bought from Pavel Tsatsouline.

The point of all is this that I no longer have back pain. Developing a strong, stable, flexible spine has allowed me to do a sport that is notorius for producing back pain. I urge you to buy the new edition of Dr. McGill’s book on back fitness (Ultimate back Fitness and Performance, 3rd edition.) My improved back fitness has allowed me to employ more leg and hip drive is are going to be a big surprise to my competitors this year at the world championships in Italy.