Dr. Stuart McGill’s Big 3 Exercises For Stabilizing The Back

Here’s a video Robert shared in comments. It has totally changed my thinking on how to protect the back from injury.

University of Waterloo kinesiology professor Stuart McGill is one of the world’s foremost experts on spine biomechanics. Here, he discusses several pervasive myths about back injury, exercise, proper lifting, and strengthening the core.

McGill: “Most people will not get through life without some element of back pain impinging on their activity.”

I’ve watched this video several times. I’ve learned a lot, like, a flexible back or a strong back are not protective of back injury. In fact, they are associated with more injury. The muscles of the back stabilize, they prevent movement. But back muscles require endurance because they’re in use constantly. I did not know this. I thought flexibility and strength were important. I’m changing how I treat my back.

Here’s a good video showing McGill’s “Big 3” exercises for stabilizing the back:

Bird Dog
Modified Curl-up
Side Plank

I’ve been doing the bird dog every day. It requires balance!

3 thoughts on “Dr. Stuart McGill’s Big 3 Exercises For Stabilizing The Back

  1. Marj

    It must be that I first heard of Dr. McGill’s work here in your blog then. Having saved videos of his work, like you, have been doing the “bird dog” not every day but often. I do like his views on care for the back. It makes good sense.


    1. Bix Post author

      I first heard about him from Robert. Or maybe I heard about him before and just got too busy and forgot.

      I really did think that flexibility, not stability, was the order of the day for the back! No wonder I’m sore! I just added in this side plank. It’s a little more difficult than it looks, for me at least 🙂


  2. David Dreyfus

    I’m like you, I’ve never heard of this concept before. I wonder if those looking for more flexibility push themselves beyond where they should and thus have more injuries.

    Either way, I’m going to stop my crunches and try his version to see if I can feel a positive difference.

    Thanks for sharing.



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