85 / Moving Well to Become Pain Free w/ Dr. Stu McGill


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By Emily Kiberd and Dr. Emily Kiberd. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

No two patients are the same. Everyone who walks into a practitioner’s office brings with them unique biomechanical, as well as social and psychological, factors. Being able to understand each patient’s individual conditions and background is what sets great practitioners apart.

Dr. Stu McGill is a professor emeritus, University of Waterloo, where he was a professor for 32 years. His laboratory and experimental research clinic investigated issues related to the causal mechanisms of back pain, how to rehabilitate back-pained people, and enhance injury resilience and performance.

Today, I’m asking Dr. McGill the big questions. He tells us what it means to move well. Starting from the scientific principle that every one of the body’s health systems requires movement for optimal health, Dr. McGill explains why this means different things to different people.

To better understand one’s patients, Dr. McGill explains the importance of truly listening to everyone’s story. He describes how helping people become pain-free can lead to large psychological improvements too. Most of all, Dr. McGill understands how everyone’s health and situation is unique. He expertly explains how we can cue into these differences to best serve each patient’s needs.

What does moving well mean to you? Tell me in the comments on the episode page!

In this episode

  • What it means to move well
  • The many factors that make each person’s needs different
  • Why social context matters when treating every patient
  • How to cue an optimal breath depending on a person’s particular needs
  • The benefits of kettlebell swings in many situations
  • Debunking common myths of low back pain
  • Lessons learned from studying elite athletes


“If I can’t address that enormous social impediment for a patient’s success, then it doesn’t matter what the exercise is anymore.” [11:06]

“People don’t do the same tasks with exactly the same movement pattern. They vary their movement patterns. We measure what is wise and unwise. What is painful and what is painless. What creates athleticism and what doesn’t.” [39:23]

“You will never train a saint bernard to win at the greyhound track. It’s not possible. You will break the dog.” [55:00]


Find Dr. Stu McGill online

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Episode 79 with Dr. Craig Liebenson

Check out the full show notes for this episode here

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