The Back Mechanic: Professor McGill covers many relevant and controversial topics for the trainer and clinician dealing with back pained clients.

From an HFE Interview in the UK: Professor Stuart McGill is arguably the world’s foremost authority on matters related to the spine and back pain. With decades of experience, including thirty years as a professor at the University of Waterloo, his investigative research has explored the mechanics of back pain, rehabilitation, injury resilience and performance. Professor McGill is so sought after that he has consulted with everyone from governments, corporations, sports teams, elite athletes and leading medical groups. A true leader in his field, he has produced over 240 scientific journal papers and several bestselling books including the seminal Back Mechanic.

Currently, Professor McGill is the Chief Scientific Officer for Backfitpro, a site dedicated to providing evidence-based information for those looking to prevent and rehabilitate back pain.

(Note: The following has been transcribed from a phone interview with Professor McGill)

Although you really don’t need any introduction, for those who aren’t familiar with your work, could you please provide a brief overview of your background and experience with matters of the spine?

Well, I was a professor of spine biomechanics for thirty years at the University of Waterloo, in Ontario, Canada. Here we ran two different laboratories and the clinic. One was an in vitro lab where we created injuries to cadaver spines, so we were able to link specific loading regimens with specific types of tissue damage. We would document the damage with various medical imaging and microdissection. Massive damage was documented that did not show on the images.

Then the second lab was an in vivo lab where we investigated and probed how people used different muscle patterns, movement patterns, loading regimens, exposures to different loads and the loads on individual tissues. This enabled us to get a one-to-one match with why certain injuries cluster around different sports and different occupations. We also measured spine stability – very few groups in the world ever measured stability.

The third element was the clinic where we saw back pained people – they ranged from the very disabled to world-class athletes. It was an experimental clinic where we would try our new assessment techniques, and experimental therapy protocols and measure to see if they were effective or not. The final level of investigation occurred outside of the University where we ran clinical trials and did epidemiological studies. Thus we had several pillars but that is a summary of what I did at the University with my team of graduate students and colleagues.

In the beginning, we started with a simple question: How does the spine work? And from there we got into the question of how does it become injured? We investigated and probed the mechanisms and pathways that eventually lead a person to pain and loss of performance.

Then I retired from the University a couple of years ago and now I just see patients who fly in from around the world and come to the clinic which just so happens to be at my house. I also put on the occasional training course for clinicians. However, we have two fabulous instructors at Backfitpro in Dr Ed Cambridge and Joel Proskewitz who teach all of the Backfitpro courses.

Read the full article at