190: Dr. Stuart McGill | The Back Mechanic Talks Golf

It’s rare that I meet a golfer who doesn’t currently struggle or haven’t struggled in the past with some sort of back pain and discomfort. Athletes, strength coaches, and trainers can all agree that no matter the sport, a healthy back and spine is a crucial component to optimal performance.

Our balance, speed, power, mobility, coordination and every other physical requirement for golf are directly linked to good spine health, which is why this week, our special guest is Dr. Stuart McGill.

Dr. McGill is one of the pioneers in back/spine performance research with hundreds of studies published in peer-reviewed journals and has restored several golfers’ careers that were debilitated by back pain.  In this episode, we discuss the mechanics of the back, Dr. McGill’s impression of how golfers are and should be training, common causes of back pain, and what steps can you take to not only eliminate this pain but prepare and train your back.

Dr. Stuart McGill’s Background

  • Stuart McGill was a Professor of Spine Biomechanics at the University of Waterloo for over 32 years, authored of over 240 scientific journal papers, 5 books, and has mentored over 40 graduate students during this scientific journey.
  • 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.
  • As a consultant, he has provided expertise on low back injury to various government agencies, many corporations and legal firms and hundreds of professional/international athletes and teams worldwide. He is regularly referred special patient cases from the international medical community.
  • Dr. McGill is the founder of BackFitPro.com, which is the primary hub of his most current content and materials.

Highlights from this Episode

  • McGill kicks off the episode diving into what he does and how his love for back performance research began. One of his great joys is working with the elite athletes and “watching the whip unfold” to analyzing how mechanically defined they are.
  • What he has seen working with athletes that suffer from back pain and the effect it has on both the “hardware” and “software” of a golfer’s mechanics. He dives into worrying issues he sees in golf that are reaching a biological tipping point: up to a point they are beneficial but too much can be detrimental.
  • He touches on how he wouldn’t consider golfers “strength” or “power” athletes, but rather “elastic athletes,” in that mobility is key to a good golf game. He defines what the fundamentals of an elastic athlete and a run through of his assessment.
  • Specific workout and training health tips, such as the difference between high force-low velocity, low force-high velocity workouts and what they look like and how adding a lot of resistance to rotation is a very detrimental idea. What to look for and steps you can take to maintain a healthy spine.
  • He talks about his book “The Back Mechanic”, written for the lay public which he says was harder to write than his many textbooks for clinicians.

Parting Questions

Caddy Shack or Happy Gilmore?  Caddy Shack

What would your “walk-up song” be? be? Nothing!

18 holes with anyone. Who and Where? Donald Trump, Michael Jordan or Mohammed Ali at Muskoka Golf Course

What has you most excited now?  I still love the puzzles I get presented with and the problems I get to solve through my super athlete clients.

Any last piece of advice?  I’d listen to my wife.

Sources mentioned:
The Back Mechanic
The New Science of Golf
18STRONG Mobility May on Instagram


Find out more and follow BackFitPro and Dr. Stuart McGill at:




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