You are here

Stuart M. McGill

Professor Emeritus

Stuart McGill


BPE (Toronto)

MSc (Ottawa)

PhD (Waterloo)

Contact information




Research interests

As a professor for 32 years, the research in the Spine Biomechanics Laboratory had 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.

There were 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. In addition, our research clinic assessed challenging back cases referred from around the world. The final component to our investigations used epidemiological approaches to test our techniques on various populations including military, firefighters, police, athletic and occupational groups. Our graduate students have been very successful being recruited as faculty members, and some becoming ergonomists or taking various clinical positions.

For further information please go to my website

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

book cover

 Assessment and Therapeutic Exercise

book cover

book cover

Gift of Injury

Information on Dr. McGill's Books, Speaking Schedule

Selected publications

Clinical Videos

  1. McGill, S.M., Back exercises for Seniors, Univ of Waterloo, 1996.
  1. McGill, S.M., The Ultimate Back: Enhancing Performance (, 2010
  1. McGill, S.M., Clinical Techniques for the Ultimate Back:  Assessment and Therapeutic Exercise (, 2007. Second Edition 2012.
  1. Stuart McGill, Gray Cook & Craig Liebenson, Assessing Movement Video, On target publications, ( 2014
  1. Stuart McGill & Lee Brandon, New Science of Golf, (, 2015
  1. McGill S.M. and Bielak, P., Superstiffness for Combative Athletes: Enhance injury resilience and improve performance. (, 2018


McGill, S.M., and Carroll, B., Gift of Injury, Backfitpro Inc, (, 2018.

McGill, S.M., (2015) Back Mechanic: The step-by-step McGill method to fix back pain. Backfitpro Inc, (  Now printed in German, Dutch, Czech, Spanish, Italian, Korean, Chinese, Slovenian, Serbian.

Augaitis, R. Kell, R. Kourtis, G., McGill, S.M., Whitmarsh, L. Springle, N. Personal Fitness: Faster, Stronger, Smarter. Textbook for High School Curriculum, Thompson Books, Toronto, 2013

McGill, S.M.  Ultimate back fitness and performance, Backfitpro Inc., Waterloo, Canada, 200 ISBN 0-9736018-0-4 (  Sixth edition 2017.

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, Third Edition, 2016.  Now also printed in Japanese, 2003 and in Chinese, 2009.

Recent published papers

*Indicates first authors who were students at time of development of the paper.

Brendan L. Pinto* and Stuart M. McGill­(submitted March 2019) Voluntary muscle relaxation can improve counter-movement jump performance. J Sports Sci.

Cannon, J., Cambridge, E., McGill, S.M., (in press, 2019 ) ACL Injury Mechanisms and the Kinetic Chain Linkage: The Effect of Proximal Joint Stiffness on Distal Knee Control during Bilateral Landings, JOSPT

Lysander Jim, and Stuart McGill (accepted Nov 2018) Observations of thoracic neuromuscular oscillation subsequent to thoracic pathology, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation,

Balkovec, C., Veldhuis, J., Baird, J., Brodland, W., McGill, S.M., (2018): Digital Tracking Algorithm Reveals the Influence of Structural Irregularities on Joint Movements in the Human Cervical Spine, Clinical Biomechanics 56:11-17.

Stuart McGill, and Brad Schoenfeld, (2017) Master Class- Choosing Exercises: An example with “the crunch”, NSCA Personal Trainer Quarterly.

Balkovec, C., Veldhuis, J., Baird, J., Brodland, W., McGill, S.M., (2017) A Videofluoroscopy-Based Tracking Algorithm for Quantifying the Time Course of Human Intervertebral Displacements. Computer Methods in Biomechanics and Biomedical Engineering. Mar 15:1-9. doi: 10.1080/10255842.2017.1302435.

Lee B and McGill SM.  (2016) The Effect of Core Training on Distal Limb Performance During Ballistic Maneuvers. J Sport Sci.,

Lee B and McGill SM.  (2016) The effect of short term isometric training on core/torso stiffness. J Sport Sci.

Balkovec, C., Vernengo, J., Stevenson, P., McGill, S.M., (2016) Evaluation of an injectable hydrogel and PMMA in restoring mechanics to compressively fractured spine motion segments, The Spine Journal. 16(11) 1404–1412.

Balkovec, C., Vernengo, J., McGill, S.M., (2016) Disc height loss and restoration via injectable hydrogel influences adjacent segment mechanics in-vitro Clinical Biomechanics, 36:1-7.

A Bateman, C Balkovec, M Akens, A Chan, W Oakden, R Harrison, A Yee, S McGill, (2016) Closure of the annulus fibrosus using a novel suture application device – in vivo porcine and ex-vivo biomechanical evaluation, The SPINE Journal. 16:889-895.

Giangregorio LM, Ashe MC, Shipp K, Cheung AM, Heinonen A, Papaioannou A, McGill S, Laprade J, Jain R, Leller K, MacIntyre N, Wark J.  (2016) Intensity is a subjective construct", Osteoporosis International. Osteoporos. Int., 27:2391–2392.  DOI 10.1007/s00198-016-3507-9

Frost DM, Beach TAC, Crosby I, McGill SM. (2016) The cost and distribution of firefighter injuries in a large Canadian fire department, WORK: A Journal of Prevention, Assessment & Rehabilitation.55(3),497-504.

Cannon, J., Emond, D., McGill, S.M., (2016) Evidence on the ability of a pneumatic decompression belt to restore spinal height following an acute bout of exercise. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, 39(4):304-310.

Santana, J.C., Brown, L., McGill, S.M., (2015) The Anterior and Posterior Serape: The rotational core. Strength and Conditioning Journal.37(5):8-13.

Frost DM, Beach TAC, Campbell TL, Callaghan JP, McGill SM.(2015) An appraisal of the Functional Movement Screen grading criteria – Is the composite score sensitive to risky movement behavior? Phys Ther Sport 2015 Nov 17;16(4):324-30. Epub 2015 Feb 17.

Frost DM, Beach TAC, Callaghan JP, McGill SM.  (2015) Exercise-based performance enhancement and injury prevention for firefighters: Contrasting the fitness- and movement-related adaptations to two training methodologies. J Strength Cond Res 2015 Sep;29(9):2441-59.

Frost DM, Beach TAC, McGill SM, Callaghan JP. (2015) A proposed method to detect kinematic differences between and within individuals. J. Emg. Kinesiol. Volume 25(3): 479–487.

Kushner A., M., Brent, J. L., Schoenfeld B., Hugentobler, J., Lloyd, R. S., Vermeil, A., Chu, D., Harbin, J., McGill, S. M., Myer, G. D., (2015) The Back Squat Part 2: Targeted Training Techniques to Correct Functional Deficits and Technical Factors that Limit Performance, J. Strength and Condit. Res. 37(2):13-60.

McGill SM, Frost DM, Finlay T, et al. (2015) Can fitness and movement quality prevent back injury in elite task force police officers? A 5 year longitudinal study,  Ergonomics 2015 Oct 8;58(10):1682-9. Epub 2015 May 8. Winner: Liberty Mutual award for top paper in 2015.

Balkovec C, Adams M, Dolan P, McGill SM. (2015) Annulus fibrosus can strip hyaline cartilage endplate from subchondral bone: a study of the intervertebral disc in tension. Global Spine J 2015 Oct 25;5(5):360-5. Epub 2015 Feb 25. Won the top paper of the year for 2015 in the Global Spine Journal.

Frost DM, Crosby I, McGill SM (2015).  Firefighter injuries are not just a fireground problem. WORK. 09/2015; DOI:10.3233/WOR-152111

Vera-Garcia, F., Ruiz-Pérez, I., Barbado, D., Juan-Recio, C., McGill, S.M., (2014) Trunk and shoulder EMG and lumbar kinematics of medicine-ball side throw and side catch and throw. European J. Human Movement, 33:93-109

McGill SM, Cannon, J., Andersen J (2014).  Muscle activity and spine load during pulling exercises: Influence of stable and labile contact surfaces and technique coaching. J.EMG.Kines. DOI 1016/j.jelekin.2014.06.002 24(5): 652-665

Sidorkewicz, N., & McGill, S. M. (2014). Documenting female spine motion during coitus with a commentary on the implications for the low back pain patient. European Spine Journal, 1-8.

Frost DM, Beach TAL, Callaghan J, McGill SM.  (2015) A proposed method to detect kinematic differences between and within individuals. J EMG. Kin.  03/2015; 25(3). DOI:10.1016/j.jelekin.2015.02.012.

McGill, SM, Cambridge, E., Anderson, J., (2015).  A six week trial of hula hooping using a weighted hoop: Affects on skinfold, girths, weight and torso muscle endurance. J. Strength Cond. Res. 29(5):1279–1284.

Lee B, McGill SM. (2014) Striking dynamics and kinetic properties of boxing and MMA gloves. RAMA. (Revista de Artes Marciates Asiaticas), 9(2): 106-115.

Frantzis E, Druelle P, Ross K, McGill SM (accepted Sept 2014).  The accuracy of osteopathic adjustments of the lumbar spine: A Pilot Study. Int. J Osteopathic Medicine 18 (2015), pp. 33-39 DOI information: 10.1016/j.ijosm.2014.09.001

Balkovec C, Carstensen M, Leung A, McGill SM (2014).  A Preliminary Investigation into the Morphology of Trabecular Bone Damage Associated with Intervertebral Disc Herniation. J Spine Neurosurg 3:6 doi:10.4172/2325-9701.1000162

Lee, B and McGill, S.M.  (2015) The effect of long term isometric training on core/torso stiffness. J. Strength Condit. Res. 29 (6):1515-1526.  doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000000740

Frost DM, Beach TAL, Callaghan J, McGill SM (2015).  FMS scores change with performer's knowledge of the grading criteria- Are general whole body movement screens capturing "dysfunction". J Strength Cond Res 2015 Nov;29(11):3037-44

Frost DM, Beach TAL, Callaghan J, McGill SM (2015).  The influence of load and speed on individual's movement behaviour. J Strength Cond Res 2015 Sep;29(9):2417-25

McGill SM, Cannon J, Anderson J, (2014) Muscle activity and spine load during anterior chain whole body linkage exercises: The body saw, hanging leg raise and walkout from a pushup.  J. Sport Sci. DOI 10.1080/026 40414.2014.946 437

Dejanovic A, Balkovec C, McGill SM (2015).  Head posture influences low back muscle endurance tests in 11 year old children. J Mot Behav 2015 25;47(3):226-31. Epub 2014 Nov 25.

Sidorkewicz N and McGill SM (2014). Male spine motion during coitus: Implications for the low back pain patient.  SPINE 39(20): 1633-1639.

Giangregorio LM, Ashe MC, Shipp K, Cheung AM, Heinonen A, Papaioannou A, McGill S, Laprade J, Jain R, Leller K, MacIntyre N, Wark J.  “Is this exercise safe?” – Building consensus around responses to common questions about physical activity posed by people with osteoporosis. J Bone Miner Res 28 (Supp1). Available at:

Giangregorio LM, McGill S, Wark JD, Laprade J, Heinonen A, Ashe MC, MacIntyre NJ, Cheung AM, Shipp K, Keller H, Jain R, Papaioannou A.  Too Fit To Facture: Outcomes of a Delphi consensus process on physical activity and exercise recommendations for adults with osteoporosis with or without vertebral fractures.  Osteoporosis International, DOI 10.1007/s00198-014-2881-4, Osteoporosis International: Volume 26, Issue 3 (2015), Page 891-910.

Myer GD, Kushner AM, Brent JL, Schoenfeld BJ, Hugentobler J, Lloyd RS, Vermeil A, Chu DA, Harbin J, McGill SM. The back squat: A proposed assessment of functional deficits and technical factors that limit performance. Strength Cond. 2014 Dec 1;36(6):4-27.

Giangregorio L, MacIntyre N, Heinonen A, Cheung A, Wark J, McGill SM, 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

Casthanhero R, Duarte M, McGill SM (2014).  Corrective sitting strategies: an examination of muscle activity and spine load. J. EMG. Kinesiol. 24(1): 114-119.

Beach, T.A.C., Frost, D.M., McGill, S.M., Callaghan, J.P. Physical fitness improvements and occupational low-back loading – An exercise intervention study with firefighters. Ergonomics 57(5): 744-763, 2014.

Frost, D. M., Beach, T. A., McGill, S. M., & Callaghan, J. P. (2015). The predictive value of general movement tasks in assessing occupational task performance. Work: A Journal of Prevention, Assessment and Rehabilitation. 06/2014; 52(1). DOI:10.3233/WOR-141902

Badiuk, B. W., Andersen, J. T., & McGill, S. M. (2014). Exercises to Activate the Deeper Abdominal Wall Muscles: The Lewit: A Preliminary Study. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 28(3), 856-860.

McGill SM, Cannon J, Andersen J (2014).  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. 28(1): 105-116.

Sidorkewicz N, Cambridge E, McGill SM (2014).  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. 29(9):971-976.

University of Waterloo