CSCA Interview with Stuart McGill

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Dr. Stuart McGill is an excellent example of a Canadian researcher who has influenced S&C coaches globally with is work. We are extremely fortunate to have such an approachable, knowledgable, and personable, person to learn from. The CSCA was able to catch up with Dr. McGill regarding items such as what his focus was as an undergraduate student, to his current venture.

CSCA: What was your motivation to focus your career on back health / research?

SM: My answer may disappoint you. I went to University more interested in playing sport than for academics – the football coach suggested I take Physical Education. I soon fell in love with the academics taking both Phys. Ed. and Physics. I applied for a masters in Biomechanics and chose Ottawa U so I could ride my bike in the Gatineau.

While in Ottawa I played hockey with the professors’ team where I met a professor from an opposing team from U of Waterloo. He invited me to visit the spine biomechanics lab which I joined as a PhD student. Upon graduation, they offered me a professorship.

As a young professor my first goal was simple – to probe how the spine worked. I was asked to present our findings at various clinical and athletic performance meetings. Clinicians and coaches started to ask me to see players and teams with back injury and pain issues. The rest is history.

But the interesting feature of our research was that every time a clinician, a coach, or an athlete asked a question that we did not know the answer to – that became the focus of our next experiment. So our research was always driven by what the coaches and athletes needed to know in terms of enhancing resilience and performance. The sweet spot is when we can achieve both.

CSCA: In working within professional and amateur sport, do you typically connect with the athletes directly, or do you work primarily with the athletes’ S&C coaches?

SM: The short answer is both. Athletes come for an assessment to understand the precise mechanism of pain. Then we involve their coaches and medical team to execute the plan for recovery.

Other times we are contacted by coaches to assist with team issues of injury rates or training strategies to reduce risk and enhance performance.

CSCA: Please tell us about what research project (or projects) you are currently focusing on.

SM: I retired from the University 4 years ago. However, I continue to see athletes as patients together with their coaches. I am asked for opinions to assist other ongoing research around the world.

CSCA: Please tell us about the most recent virtual course you have created, and what an S&C coach can expect to learn/gain?

SM: I have taught the 3 courses which we call the McGill Method for over 20 years around the world. The pandemic motivated putting the courses on-line. These are comprehensive courses with each one equivalent to a university term course – each one has well over 20 hours of lecture and hands-on skill development workshop material. For those interested in becoming a McGill Method certified coach or clinician these courses are mandatory.

McGill Method 1: Foundation for a Pain-Free Back

This course includes 20 hours of lectures and demonstrations by Prof McGill. It is geared for clinicians, trainers, coaches and performance specialists who wish to update their knowledge of the most recent developments in function of the lumbar spine. This is essential for making the best clinical decisions.

McGill Method 2: Assessment

This course includes 16 hours of lectures and demonstrations by Prof McGill. McGill Method 2 is geared for clinicians, advanced trainers, coaches and performance specialists who wish to obtain advanced skills to assess back-pained clients/patients/athletes. The goal is to converge on an understanding of the precise pain pathway to guide a targeted intervention.

McGill Method 3: Enhancing Performance

This course includes 20 hours of lectures and demonstrations by Prof McGill. McGill Method 3 is geared for clinicians, advanced trainers, coaches, and performance specialists who wish to obtain advanced skills to enhance the performance of sport and occupational athletes alike.

To learn more about the certification and the courses click HERE

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