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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


McGill, S.M., Back Mechanic: The step-by-step McGill method to manage back pain. “In preparation”.
Now also printed in Japanese, 2003 
Now also printed in Chinese, 2009.

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.

McGill, S.M.  Ultimate back fitness and performance, Backfitpro Inc., Waterloo, Canada, 2004. ISBN 0-9736018-0-4 (  Fifth edition 2014.

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

Clinical DVD’s

McGill, S.M., Clinical Techniques for the Ultimate Back:  Assessment and Therapeutic Exercise (, 2007. Second Edition 2012.

McGill, S.M., The Ultimate Back: Enhancing Performance (, 2010

Commissioned Papers and Position Papers

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.

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.

Santana, J.C., Brown, L., McGill, S.M., (in press) The Anterior and Posterior Serape: The rotational core. Strength and Conditioning Journal.

Frost DM, Beach TAC, Campbell TL, Callaghan JP, McGill SM.(accepted February 2015) An appraisal of the Functional Movement Screen grading criteria – Is the composite score sensitive to risky movement behavior? Phys. Ther. In Sport.​

Frost DM, Beach TAC, Callaghan JP, McGill SM.  (accepted Feb, 2015) Exercise-based performance enhancement and injury prevention for firefighters: Contrasting the fitness- and movement-related adaptations to two training methodologies. J. Strength Condit. Res.

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.

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, Frost DM, Finlay T, et al. (accepted 2015) Can fitness and movement quality prevent back injury in elite task force police officers? A 5 year longitudinal study, Ergonomics.

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. DOI

Frost DM, Crosby I, McGill SM (Accepted Sept 2014).  Firefighter injuries are not just a fireground problem. WORK.

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 10.1016/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.  A proposed method to detect kinematic differences between and within individuals.  Human Movement Science.

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

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 (in press 2014).  Head posture influences low back muscle endurance tests in 11 year old children. J. Motor Behavior

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

University of Waterloo

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