To visit the Vegan Bodybuilding website click here

Sunday, 12 February 2012

REVIEW: Stuart McGill Ultimate Back DVDs

This is actually a review of both the:

The Ultimate Back : Enhancing Performance

& The Ultimate Back : Assessment and Therapeutic Exercise

Stuart McGill is one of those guys with a huge brain (you can see it pulsating with energy I'm sure you can!).  At the moment he is probably if not the top, then fairly close to the top guy looking into backs  & back health for athletes & strength people.
The first DVD gives corrective ideas for people with bad backs, the second is how to achieve maximum performance if you have a history of back problems.  This is not easy stuff to dive into.  I suggest you get his books & DVD if you really want to understand where he is coming from.  The DVDs are not professionally shot, a lot of the times it looks like Stuart himself or colleagues do a lot of the filming, there is tripod creek in the first DVD & some of the angles mean at points he is hidden behind things...but all that being said the info is very useful if you have a bad back.  He does expect some knowledge of anatomy & terms used, so if this is new to you, buy the books (see below) & use google to  find out what he's talking about.  Personally I found the second DVD more useful to me than the first.  The first wasn't bad & had some interesting bits, but I found more use from the second.  For best results I'd suggest watching both & reading his books "Low back disorders" & "Ultimate back fitness & performance" both available here.
I found a couple of useful things to add into my warm-up, noted some instabilities I had, so hopefully I'll have a stronger lower back & more stable core if I include these movements?  That being said I do have some concerns with the ideas of McGill.  I'm sure the guy is much more intelligent & knows a whole lot more about backs than me, but I had no issues with my lower back until I followed McGill's advice & dropped all flexion abdominal movements (so crunches, sit-ups & similar) - so, after a couple of flare-ups I reintroduced flexion, but I am sticking to quality over quantity & a lot of my work is actually resisting movement in the core, so ab-roller (you've got to love that roller!), planks, side planks, suitcase lifts & carries, waiter walk, one leg deadlift & squatting & as I said 'some' flexion of the abs.  Stuart McGill got his ideas from testing pigs spines, he got a spine from a dead pig & put it in a machine that bent & bent the spine like repeated crunches.  To me that seems a bit of an odd way to test a theory as the spine is dead, so is has no synovial  fluid & no chance to recover & rebuild as a normal spine would, even without the ethical considerations it wouldn't be my testing of choice, I am not the only one to think this (see abstract here), I think the answer is probably somewhere in the middle, don't do 3,000 crunches every day, but doing some may help & probably won't hurt you...but the choice has to be your own, read McGill & make up your own mind.
If you don't like technical stuff, then this may not be for you, but if you like to see options on how to correct stuff for you & you clients then this might be of interest.
Oh yes a final note, the first DVD starts a lot like a physical therapists lecture, you might almost turn it off thinking this isn't of any use to me, but some useful stuff does come out during the lectures & practicals, stuff you can really use.  If you are somewhere where personal trainers can't lay hands on their clients, then this will be hard to do some of the stuff as McGill is very hands on.  I'm a massage therapist so I can touch people as needed & I suggest any personal trainers get some experience doing something hands on as it really does make a world of difference if you can touch someone to correct stuff.
So, these DVDs will suit personal trainers, those with back issues who know a little anatomy & are willing to learn.  I enjoyed the set (this is not my first view of the product, I will go back to it a few times just to review & see what else I can find as it's very useful to me).  I think many of you will find these very useful  & maybe correct some issues they have on the way!

To get hold of these DVDs click here

Final note:  This is a warning!  A lot of people start viewing corrective work & slowly the 'corrective stuff' takes over the workout.  A workout should always involve some heavy lifting under most circumstances.  Do not go the way of some trainers who extensively use pink dumbbells during their training sessions.  Unless you have a current issue, stick corrections into warm-ups, cool downs, between sets or other parts of the day, most of your training should be heavy.  That doesn't mean you can't do some core stability work using a heavy one leg deadlift for example, corrections can get heavy too if you choose carefully!  Just don't go the way of the 'corrective guy' as that way leads to being really weak & about as functional as a grandmother with arthritis!  If you're on a stability ball juggling oranges, pressing pink dumbbells or other annoying movements, you are avoiding doing the work you need to be doing, get off the ball & lift some poundage!  Don't let corrections rule your workout!  Warning over....


Anonymous said...

it is obvious you have limited

knowledge of the lumbar spine.

go and read much more before you

start thinking mcgil is not correct

to leave out flexion movements.

spine journal for one a good start

for you

Vegan Bodybuilding said...

I never claimed to be a spinal expert - my areas are personal training, massage therapy & clinical nutrition - Even McGill though accepts his view is just theory, not fact. There are many questioning voices such as I was not claiming or advising anyone else on what to do, just what I do for myself - McGill has forms of sit-ups he employs himself, but believes his tweaks make them ok - but again based on theory - no one has yet tested out these sit-ups compared them to other versions & found if back injuries are less using them (look up McGill sit-up). So, he is using a modified version, but his are ok with no clinical evidence to back them up, just theoretical knowledge? McGill is certainly smarter than me, but he is not the only smart voice out there, nor are smart ideas always correct. I did try his solution, it didn't work for me (in fact for me it CAUSED lumbar back pain, he first I'd ever suffered), I can't really answer any better than that.
I'd actually argue that everyone has limited knowledge of the spine & to claim to 'know' the spine puts you in a league of your own as even spinal specialists cannot tell you why many people have lumbar spine issues. Ask any spinal specialist can they diagnose & correct every condition? You often cannot tell one patient from another by looking at the spine or observing its function. It is such a complex piece of engineering that it's a little arrogant to think we understand it very much at all yet. In this blog I can only express my views, what I've found to work. I tried McGill's way, for me it didn't work - I refuse to stick to an idea simply because it appears to 'make sense', if another option leaves me pain-free then I'm afraid I'm going to use it - it may be my spine does not agree with the knowledge you have so carefully memorised from your journals :-). I think we'll find in years to come that many things to do with how we believe the spine functions will change. I myself will be keeping an eye open for changes & I'm happy, eager to employ new ideas as they emerge - hopefully you too will be open to new ideas & questioning what you have learnt as often these things change as time goes on, & the lumbar spine is so complex new ideas are pretty much certain to appear!
I will continue to read & be open to new ideas, hopefully you will do the same & thanks for your input.

Anonymous said...

i have done over 10 years research on back pain and read all of mcgills books and many other medical texts as well at the university library

and have personally talked to professor mcgill quite a few times

he has over 180 articles to his name on various topics of the back

further i would surely bet is the number one world wide expert on the back like by a country mile
there is no one out there even in his league. as he is so famous many feel the best stragety to further their piss poor career is to attack mcgills work. pathetic really

further many people with back pain have hired myself to come advise them on their back and or hip problems

much of which i have used mcgills
strageties and some of my own
with fantastic results

everything that mcgill says is not
his opinion but is evidence based
and there is overwhelming evidence
flexion and rotation of the lumbar spine is just not worth the risk

while their are over 13 different causes of back pain and combinations of. no 2 backs are the same. but i cant name any situation where it would help the person to add loaded flexion and rotation of the lumbar spine.

if i had to go into all i could explain why this is the case

but it would be like a chapter long to explain it all but there are many more reasons than just dead pig spines

further from all the people i have trained on the back it has also been the case that all loaded flexion of the lumbar best avoided

anyways i would suugest you read every single page of both of mcgills books and very much study every single topic

and also there are many articles in spine journal

also another source is chiroweb with many articles

Vegan Bodybuilding said...

Strangely enough I have worked with clients ranging from high end athletes to those with HIV & have yet to CAUSE back injury (except for one to myself using McGills protocols). You have done 10 years of research, I've done more years than that in the field if you really want to argue about 'portfolio size' (as if years doing something matters - in my view it is quality of time spent doing something, not time alone).
I have all of McGills books, also stuff like Mechanical Low Back Pain-Portsfield & DeRosa & many others.
You are actually twisting my words just to alter an argument I said his choice of crunch (the McGill sit-up) is not proven to be more effective than any other version & was opinion - if you wish to prove that wrong simply post the link to the study & that will be ended. Of course McGill has evidence - I never said everything he said is wrong - if you read the article as carefully as you read the McGill books, you'll see I include mostly stuff advised by McGill, but I include a 'little' flexion & there is no pain! I'm an end-user of this work not the guy going out there & doing the clinical studies, so I have no idea why that should be, but for me that is what works, & as I said some other people do contend the issue who also have impressive credentials.
You say there are no examples where loaded flexion may help a back - I can name one... ME! It is not my field to try & explain why that is, but there you go - I may just be an outlier, who knows, but trying to tell me that doing something that caused me pain is kind of irresponsible for clinician, don't you agree?
I was interested to see you used you own strategies as well as McGills - I would be interested to hear about those, how do you differ from McGill & why?
Finally questioning in the field of study isn't actually 'piss poor', even if it wrong, the job of any researcher is to be a sceptic - everything should be questioned or we'd get no advances. A person may write 1 study, but that one study could change a field.