Stuart McGill had a terrific article in last month’s Journal of Strength and Conditioning. Everybody that reads this website probably knows how big of a fan I am of Dr. McGill. I seem to post something from his about once every two weeks.
It just happens that the stuff I find from him is extremely informational, and I believe we can always learn more about the spine and how to prevent injury. Over 80% of people will experience low back pain at some point in their life, and a large majority of athletes are walking around with disc problems but they have no idea. . . . yet!
This article is terrific as Dr. McGill talks about designing a properly, progressive program for treating the low back, starting with corrective exercises, then grooving motion, and motor patterns, progressing through proper joint stability / mobility, and finally developing speed, and power.
A few quick points from the article:
- Flexion intolerant backs are extremely common today. I’m sure we’ve all seen the athlete with back pain that gets put on a stretching program by the athletic trainer when this could be the very thing exacerbating the problem.
- The spine is never a power generator. The hips should develop power and it should be transmitted through the stiffened core.
- The torso shouldn’t be used for motion either. Motion should take place at the hips and shoulders and the spine should remain silent in between.
- Optimize the tissue properties, meaning don’t passively stretch athletes just because. A lot of times stretching isn’t at all necessary, and it can kill elasticity within the muscle.
- Dr. McGill touches on the importance of the quadratus lumborum and the importance of the suitcase carry for this important muscle. I’ve touched on this very thing by Dr. McGill before.
This blog doesn’t do the article or anything put out by Dr. McGill justice. He even states at the end of the text that he is concerned that this article shortchanges the reader and it doesn’t fully convey the components that go into spine rehabilitation, and/or injury prevention. Anything put out by Dr. McGill is a good read and something can be picked up from all his works.