Stuart McGill PhD

Stuart McGill is a Professor of spine biomechanics at the University of Waterloo. He is the author of 3 textbooks and over 300 scientific publications that address the issues of low back function, injury mechanisms, development of evidence-based rehabilitation and performance enhancement. 

As a consultant, he has provided low back expertise to various government agencies, many corporations, elite athletes, teams and Olympic programs from many countries, and legal firms. He is one of the few scientists who is regularly asked for consult by the medical and sporting community regarding particularly difficult back cases.

Show Notes

The Use of Repeat, End-range Movement

Professor McGill will on some occasions use repeated end-range movement in his evaluation depending on the situation but he doesn’t use it with all patients.

Time When Struggled

Shirley Sahrmann, Dick Earhart and Vladimir Janda and many other students have all contributed to a better understanding of patients and movement. 

Memorable Patient Story

A lady in her late 70’s with a “bad back” who’s greatest worry wasn’t the chronic back pain but other concerns and her response moved many of the hardened orthopods in the room to tears. 

Patient Analogy

Simply describing and showing the patient what causes their pain is to Professor McGill one of the most powerful ways to communicate to the patient.  He also uses spine models from Dynamic Disc Designs

Worst Advice and Best Advice

Some bad advice given to Stuart was to “stay away from athletes” because he was told there’s no money in performance research.

Also, a patient once told him, “Now, you’ve told me what I shouldn’t do… tell me … what I should do!”


The internet is the first resource he thinks of that he uses to look up papers. 

Impactful Studies

Not one paper in a singular sense comes to mind that has impacted his interaction with patients but he believes that collectively his scientific work has been driven by the questions that have arisen when observing and working with his patients.

Personal Habit

Stu said, “I’m the first one in and the last one out.”  He offers that he can’t think of anyone who has really excelled that hasn’t done so through a lot of long, hard work.

Stuart shares the relevant adage that, “Success is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration.”

Parting Advice

A great clinician needs a lot of tools in their tool box.  Prof. McGill encourages us to fill our tool box, know how to assess and identify subcategories to better treat patients.

You can find out more about Professor McGill, his books and courses at http://www.backfitpro.com