top of page

Back Mechanic

Updated: Dec 9, 2019

When the world’s authority on low back disorders, Dr. Stuart McGill calls you to personally invite you to come up to Canada and take his Masters course – you go.

The Level 2 Masters Course in Gravenhurst, Ontario this October was excellent and full of actionable material which I could implement immediately on Monday morning. More importantly it reminded me what I like most about practice, which is figuring out the complicated problems: The detective work. Stu likens it to working like Sherlock Holmes. (I’m thinking more like Batman.)

(Incidentally, providers, there is an upcoming McGill Level 2 course in Jupiter Florida, January 20th. This course is worth the time and money. See the full schedule at

I met Stu about 15 years ago when we hosted his course after the 1st edition of his Book, Low Back Disorders was released. This is a book I consider non-negotiable, required reading if you are a trainer, therapist or physician that works with people who have lower back pain. His work, steeped in science, changed how I approached evaluating and treating lower back pain over the course of my career. I credit his work to the development of my problem solving approach to treating injury.

Only the most complicated cases, from the severely limited and injured patient, to the athletes wishing to return to sport at the highest competitive level are accepted as patients by Dr. McGill. The McGill Method assessment typically takes about three hours and dives deep into the patient’s history, and through a problem solving approach develops not just a diagnosis, but a functional diagnosis identifying the specific pain triggers. Discovering ways to avoid those triggers and desensitize the affected tissues can allow the return the patient to pain free, appropriate movement. Tailored spinal hygiene practices are used to avoid triggers and spine sparing exercises are used to rebuild the core in a safe and effective fashion. The patient is engaged and educated every step of the way. An empowered patient, well armed with knowledge of how their body works, is better equipped to take charge of their own recovery.

Dr. McGill has published hundreds of peer reviewed articles and

published a number of books geared towards the practitioner, but realized there was need for communicating a step by step approach for the patient needing help. The problem with any book on low back pain is that “one size does not fit all”. It’s hard to distill a problem solving approach into a how-to guide for the general public. (This is frankly, the main reason I aspired to, but have never written a book on treating lower back pain). Dr. McGill however in his new book Back Mechanic achieved what I thought couldn’t be done. He takes the layperson through the Sherlock Holmes (ahem, Batman) style detective work, to properly evaluate complex lower back pain. He then outlines a blueprint for recovery, taking the patient through spinal hygiene and corrective exercises. The book may not be the sole answer for everyone as many people do need the critical eye or hands of a skilled practitioner, but Back Mechanic is a great place for the patient to start.

While Low Back Disorders should be required reading for every trainer, therapist or physician, I consider Back Mechanic required reading not just for the patient who suffers from lower back pain, but also those who wish to avoid it.

bottom of page