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Stuart M. McGill

Professor Emeritus

Stuart McGill


BPE (Toronto)

MSc (Ottawa)

PhD (Waterloo)

Full CV (pdf)

Contact information



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. Unfortunately I have stopped taking new student due to my impending retirement.

For further information about my research please visit the Spine Biomechanics Laboratory.

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


Information on Dr. McGill's Books, Speaking Schedule

Selected publications

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


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

 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, 2004. 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, Chinese.

Recent published papers

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., (accepted June 2016) Evaluation of an injectable hydrogel and PMMA in restoring mechanics to compressively fractured spine motion segments, The Spine Journal.

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. (In Press, Jan, 2016) The cost and distribution of firefighter injuries in a large Canadian fire department, WORK: A Journal of Prevention, Assessment & Rehabilitation.

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

Full publication list (pdf)

University of Waterloo