Low Back Exercise: Separating Myth from Fact

by Stuart McGill |   Date Released : 04 Jan 2017
Stuart McGill

About the author: Stuart McGill

Dr.Stuart M. McGill is a professor of spine biomechanics at the University of Waterloo (Waterloo, ON, Canada) and the director of the Spine Biomechanics Laboratory at the University of Waterloo, ON, Canada. His advice is often sought by governments, corporations, legal experts, elite athletes and teams from around the world. Difficult back cases are regularly referred to him for consultation.

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Comments (8)

Browder, Noah | 07 Oct 2011, 12:52 PM

I agree that sample exercises would have been beneficial, but I still find the concepts very useful and applicable. I'm not sure why the article was titled "Low Back Exercise..." however, because it seemed to focus more on length-tension relationships and neuromuscular efficiency.

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Marsh, Patrick | 12 Dec 2010, 22:27 PM

Particularly on the area of stretching I would say that only with athletes who have completely controllable ranges of motion in their sport should be trained under this philosophy. Fortunately, many trainers, including Mike Boyle, have realized that the overemphasis on dynamic flexibility has led to a new onslaught of injuries in our athletes. As for the comment on why coaches work on the ankle in loaded flexion and extension it is still true that the ecentric and concentric components of the ankle are essential for both force creation and force dissipation in jumping activities so why wouldn't you train these movements - the hips are unfortunately not the part of the body that contacts the ground when jumping and landing.

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Kyrousis, Timothy | 05 Dec 2010, 22:49 PM

sample routines and exercises would would have been welocme.

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Holman, Pete | 11 Sep 2010, 03:51 AM

I think Dr. McGill uses the term "super stiffness" in regards to neurological control of the muscular system (especially the core,) to enhance force development and performance. Bruce Lee used to talk about a punch in martial arts like a towel snap: remember rolling up a towel when you were a kid and "snapping" it at your friend on the back side? The movement starts quickly with minimal muscle engagement to initiate speed, the towel whips out rapidly and just at the precise moment of impact, tightens completely for maximum "snap." This is analogous to super stiffness. It has to do with timing and rhythm to produce speed, stability and power.

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Falconer, Jonathan | 07 Jul 2010, 21:25 PM

This article would have been a lot better with some examples of ways to achieve what is talked about in actual exercises and techniques instead of just saying what not to do.

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m, o | 09 Jun 2010, 20:25 PM

great article and very motivating

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Finch, Lucas | 02 Mar 2010, 04:36 AM

I dont feel that the concept of superstiffness had been explained sufficiently also. Maybe using more technical descriptions, accounting for the use of known anatomy, such as stretch receptor, play in this theory. Thank you> Lucas Finch

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Shearer, Risa | 29 Jan 2010, 12:18 PM

maybe a definition of "superstiffness" and not just what it is used for at the top of the article would be more helpful. I'm still not sure what you are talking about with this term.

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