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Stuart M. McGill

University Professor

Director, Spine Biomechanics Laboratory


BPE (Toronto)

MSc (Ottawa)

PhD (Waterloo)


Office: BMH 3033

Phone: (519) 888-4567, ext. 36761


Fax: (519) 746-6776

Stuart McGill profile picture


Research interests

Our research in the Spine Biomechanics Laboratory has three objectives: to understand how the low back functions; to understand how it becomes injured; and, knowing this, formulate and investigate hypotheses related to prevention of injury and optimal rehabilitation of the injured back, and ultimate performance of the athletic back.

We have two separate laboratory approaches - one which examines intact humans which utilizes a rather unique approach that monitors spine motion and body segment position, muscle activation, ligament involvement and modelling tissue loading in each individual subject; and a second approach where we examine the mechanical behaviour of low back tissues and spine specimens. Our graduate students have been involved in several issues such as investigating the load tolerance of the spine under various types of load, assessment of spine stability, examination of devices such as abdominal belts, examination of various injury mechanisms and determining the safest methods of achieving performance in the back, to name a few.

This work has been recognized with many awards including the R. Tait McKenzie Award 2005, the Canadian Society for Biomechanics Career Award 2004, the Stow visiting lectureship from the Ohio State University College of Medicine 2002, the Steven Rose Lectureship from the Washington University School of Medicine 2001, to name a few.

Preparing Leaders:  Virtually all of the graduate students from the Spine Biomechanics Laboratory land exciting careers.  Many are recruited as faculty members, and some become ergonomists or take various clinical positions.

For further information about my research please see my Publications (PDF), and visit the Spine Biomechanics Laboratory.

Professor McGill currently serves on the editorial board for the journals Clinical Biomechanics, Applied Biomechanics and Spine.


 lower back disorders

 Assessment and Therapeutic Exercise

 ultimate back fitness and performance

 Enhancing Performance


Information on Dr. McGill's Books, Speaking Schedule

Selected publications


  1. McGill, S.M.  Ultimate back fitness and performance, Backfitpro Inc., Waterloo, Canada, 2004. ISBN 0-9736018-0-4 (  Fifth edition 2014.
  2. Augaitis, R. Kell, R. Kourtis, G. McGill, S. Whitmarsh, L. Springle, N. Personal Fitness: Faster, Stronger, Smarter. Textbook for High School Curriculum, Thompson Books, Toronto, 2013
  3. McGill, S.M.  Low back disorders: Evidence based prevention and rehabilitation, Human Kinetics Publishers, Champaign, IL, U.S.A., 2002. ISBN 0-7360-4241-5, Second Edition, 2007.
    Now also printed in Japanese, 2003
    Now also printed in Chinese, 2009.

Clinical DVD’s

  1. McGill, S.M., Clinical Techniques for the Ultimate Back:  Assessment and Therapeutic Exercise (, 2007. Second Edition 2012.
  2. McGill, S.M., The Ultimate Back: Enhancing Performance (, 2010

Commissioned Papers and Position Papers

  1. McGill, S.M.  There is no such thing as non-specific back pain.  A position paper written for the Centre of Research Excellence:  Musculoskeletal Disorders.  Faculty of Applied Health Sciences, University of Waterloo, 2009.
  2. McGill, S.M. On the link between occupationally related musculoskeletal loading and low back injury.  Commissioned paper for the Commission on Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education, National Research Council and Institute of Medicine, USA, March, 2000.

Full Refereed Journal Papers *Indicates first authors who were students at time of development of the paper.

  1. Giangregorio, L., MacIntyre, N., Heinonen, A., Cheung, A., Wark, J., McGill, S.M., Shipp, K., Ashe, M., Laprade, J., Jain, R., Keller, H., Papaioannou, A. (2014)  Too fit to fracture: A consensus on future research priorities in osteoporosis and exercise. Osteoporosis International. 25;1465-1472. DOI 10.1007/500198-014-2652-2
  2. Casthanhero, R., Duarte, M., McGill, S.M.  (2014) Corrective sitting strategies: an examination of muscle activity and spine load. J. EMG. Kinisiol.
  3. Giangregorio, L., Papaioannou, A., MacIntyre, N.J. Ashe, M., Heinonen, A., Shipp, K., Wark, J., McGill, S.M., Keller, H, Jain, R., Laprade, J., Cheng, A.M.  (Accepted September 2013) Too fit to fracture: Exercise recommendations for individuals with osteoporosis or osteoporatic bone fracture.  Osteoporosis International DOI 10.1007/500198-013-2523-2
  4. Beach, T.A.C., Frost, D.M., McGill, S.M., Callaghan, J.P. (Accepted Feb 2014) Physical fitness improvements and occupational low back loading- An exercise intervention study with firefighters.  Ergonomics. 
  5. Frost, D.M., Beach, T.A.L., Callaghan, J., McGill, S.M. (Accepted Feb 2014) The predictive value of general movement tasks in assessing occupational task performance.  WORK.
  6. Frost, D.M., Beach, T.A.L., Callaghan, J., McGill, S.M.  (Accepted Sept 2013) The influence of load and speed on individual's movement behaviour. J. Strength Condit. Res.
  7. Frost, D.M., Beach, T.A.L., Callaghan, J., McGill, S.M. (Accepted August 2013) FMS scores change with performer's knowledge of the grading criteria- Are general whole body movement screens capturing "dysfunction". J. Strength Condit. Res.
  8. Badiuk, B.W.N., Andersen, J.T., McGill, S.M.  (Accepted August 2013) Exercises to activate the deeper abdominal wall muscles: The Levit.  J. Strength Condit. Res.
  9. McGill, S.M., Cannon, J., Andersen, J. (Accepted August 2013) Analysis of pushing exercises: Muscle activity and spine load while contrasting techniques on stable surfaces with labile suspension strap training system.  J. Strength Condit. Res.
  10. Sidorkewicz, N., Cambridge, E., McGill, S.M., (Accepted 2012) Examining the effects of altering hip angle on gluteus medius and tensor fascia latae interplay during common non-weight bearing hip rehabilitation exercises. Clin.Biomech.
  11. Dejanovic, A., Harvey, E., McGill, S.M. (Accepted August 2013) Isometric torso muscle endurance profiles in adolescents aged 15 to 18: Normative values, age and gender differences. Ann. Human Biology.
  12. Frost*, D. Andersen, J. Lam, T, Findlay, T., Darby, K., McGill, S.M. (2013) The relationship between general measures of fitness, passive range of motion and whole body movement quality. Ergonomics: 1-16.
  13. Dejanovic, A., Cambridge, E.D.J., McGill, S.M. (2013) Does spine posture affect isometric torso muscle endurance profiles in adolescent children? Arch. Phys. Med. & Rehab. Advances in Phys Ed. 3(3):111-115. DOI: 104236/ape.2013.33019
  14. Moreside*, J.M. and McGill, S.M. (2013) Improvements in hip flexibility and/or core stability does not transfer to mobility in functional movement patterns. J. Strength  & Condit. Research. 27(10):2635-2643.
  15. McGill, S.M., <Invited Commentary> (2013) On the issue of clinical test reliability, Arch. Phys. Med. Rehab. 94:1635-1637.
  16. McGill, S.M., <Invited Paper> (2013) Frost, D., Lam, T., Findlay, T., Darby, K., Andersen, J. Fitness and movement quality of emergency task force police officers: A database with comparison to populations of emergency services personnel, athletes and the general public. Int. J. Industrial Ergonomics.
  17. McGill, S.M., Frost, D., Andersen, J., Crosby, I., Gardiner, D.  (2013) Movement quality and links to measures of fitness in firefighters. WORK 45(3):357-66
  18. McGill, S.M., Marshall, L., Andersen, J.  (2013) Low back loads while walking and carrying: comparing the load carried in one hand or in both hands.  Ergonomics. 56(2):293-302. DOI 10.1080/00140139.2012.752528
  19. Balkovec*, C., Vernengo, J., McGill, S.M. (2013) The use of a novel injectable hydrogel nucleus pulposus replacement in restoring the mechanical properties of cyclically fatigued porcine intervertebral discs. J. Biomech Engineering. 35(6):61004-5.
  20. Gooyers*, C.E., Frost, D.M., McGill, S.M., Callaghan, J.P. (2013) Partial rupture of the achilles tendon doing a simulated fireground task: Insights obtained for the prevention and reporting of musculoskeletal injury. Clin. Biomech. 28(4):436-440.
  21. Freeman*, S., Mascia, A., McGill, S.M. (2013) Arthrogenic neuromuscular inhibition: A foundational investigation of existence in the hip joint. Clin Biomech. 28:171-177
  22. Dejanovic, A., Harvey, E., McGill, S.M.  (Accepted Aug 2012) Are anthropometric variables linked with torso muscle endurance profiles of children 7 to 14.  Advances in Physical Education.
  23. Sidorkewicz*, N., Cambridge, E., McGill, S.M.  (2012) Can gluteus medius be targetted over TFL muscle activation during common non weight bearing hip rehabilitation exercises. Can. J. Kinesiology. 6(2):12-13
  24. Cambridge*, E., Sidorkewicz, N., McGill, S.M. (2012) Hip and spine motion during progressive hip rehabilitation - Implications for the low back pain patient. Can. J. Kinesiology. 6(2):13-14
  25. Ikeda*, D., McGill, S.M. (2012) Can altering motions, postures and loads provide immediate low back pain relief: A study of four cases investigating spine load, posture and stability. SPINE. 37 (23): E1469-E1475


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