Dr. Stuart McGill is a spine researcher and author of several books, including
"Low Back Disorders" and "Ultimate Back Fitness and Performance." He works at
of Waterloo in Canada as a
professor and researcher. He's made many contributions to our understanding of
how the spine works and how to prevent spine injuries. He also works with
clients, including professional athletes.
three exercises that Stuart McGill uses to help people stabilize their
spines are: the curl-up, the bird-dog, and the side-bridge.
The Big Three Exercises
Dr. McGill's approach to back rehabilitation and injury prevention includes what
Dr. McGill calls the "big three exercises." They are meant to increase endurance
of the muscles around your spine. The exercises are low-intensity, which means
that they are very safe. The point of the big three is not to get stronger, but
to build endurance and control of your spine.
This exercise trains the abs without moving your lumbar (lower) spine or
cervical (upper) spine.
Lie down on your back with your legs out straight. Bend your right leg and plant
that foot on the floor next to your left knee.
Put your hands under your lower back. They will prop your lower back up, which
allows you to keep a natural curve in your spine.
Curl your head, neck, and shoulders off of the ground. Try to keep your neck as
still as possible while you lift your head up. Don't tuck your chin or let your
head fall back.
Try to hold yourself up at the top for 7 to 8 seconds.
Lower yourself down. Do half of the repetitions with your right leg bent and
half with your left leg bent.
This exercise involves the core muscles, back muscles and even the glutes.
McKenzie Exercises for Back Pain
Get on the floor on your hands and knees in a quadruped position. Make sure that
your back is relatively flat.
Raise your left arm forwards and at the same time extend your right leg straight
Raise your arm and leg until they are in line with your torso. To increase
activation of your back muscles even more during this exercise, you can clench
the fist of the arm you're raising.
Lower your arm and leg. Once you complete the desired amount of repetitions on
that side, switch to the other side and repeat.
This core endurance exercise strengthens the muscles on the side of your torso.
Lie on your side, with your elbow underneath your shoulder. Curl your feet back
so that your knees are at a 90-degree angle. To make this exercise harder,
straighten out your legs instead of bending them.
Lift your hips off of the ground, putting your weight on your elbow and knees.
Hold that position for as long as you can. Try to maintain a straight line from
your head down to your feet. Make sure that your hips are in line with the rest
of your body.
When you can no longer hold that position, drop and switch to the other side,
once again holding for as long as you can.