12 Dec Book Review: The Back Mechanic
Not too long ago I was talking with a buddy about his low back pain. We were discussing the back issues he’s been experiencing.
As I was talking with him to understand a little more about his situation, I recommended a book that I had recently read titled “The Back Mechanic” by Dr. Stuart McGill.
Interestingly enough, I had seen my friend a few months later and asked him if he had picked up the book on my recommendation to take control of his low back pain (LBP).
He didn’t get the book. I thought that was unfortunate because I knew how much the book could help him.
That leads me to this book review, which is now long overdue.
There’s a book that more people need to know about and that’s why I’m writing this.
THE TOPIC OF BACK HEALTH
Back health is a topic that I’m extremely passionate about for several reasons.
First, I’m a former low back pain pateint myself who has been through a severe L4-5 disc herniation that had me incapacticated for several months. What I went through was one of the worst and most painful experiences in my entire life.
Secondly, I’m a former orthopedic physical therapist who’s evaluated and treated countless low back pain pateints through the years. I know what’s it’s like to be on both sides of the fence – both as a patient and as a treating clinician.
And lastly, the impact of low back pain in this world is significant.
For example, in the United States alone, an estimated 149 million work days are lost every year because of low back pain.
Total costs are estimated to be at 100 to 200 billion dollars a year (yes, that is billion).
Most people will be affected by low back pain at some point in their lifetime.
And, what’s the primary treatment for low back pain? Pain medication. That’s not a treatment, but a band-aid on the underlying cause. Pain meds aren’t going to fix anything.
Low back pain (LBP) is about taking control.
DR. STUART MCGILL
There are few people I regard so highly as Dr. Stuart McGill for his scientific body of work.
I’ve had the honor to interview him (3 times now) about his approach to treating low back disorders. His rationale is not only based on science and practice, but built on a passion to truly improve and restore performance and minimize pain and injury.
I’ve also had the privilege to personally meet Dr. McGill and observe his scientific and practical applications with his “live” presentations.
He is truly the “world’s leading spine biomechanics expert” and I regard his work as fundamental and essential in the understanding of LBP.
Not only do I hold him in such high esteem, buy many notable strength coaches and elite performance athletes constantly seek out his knowledge and expertise.
ENTER “THE BACK MECHANIC” – WHAT IS THIS BOOK?
This book is the complete guide to understanding back pain, covering all aspects of total back health.
The first step in “back health” (in my opinion) is truly understanding your back and causes of pain and dysfunction.
I believe this book contains the essential information, not only better understand back pain, but to properly assess LBP and take a long-term approach to injury prevention and rehabilitation.
There are many components to back pain and, unfortunately, many misunderstandings that surround this topic.
The common myths and misunderstandings are addressed early in the book in the chapter on “mythbusting.”
There are many important chapters (17 chapters in all) and the book is divided into 4 main parts:
- Understanding your back pain
- Finding the cause (self assessment)
- Understanding how to rehab effectively
- Optimizing performance and special topics
I think you can see how this book covers the essential topics in understanding low back pain.
WHAT YOU’LL GET OUT OF THIS BOOK
As mentioned, I firmly believe that back pain is up to the individual to take control of their situation by better understanding their LBP and addressing it appropriately.
There are no “cookie-cutter” approach’s to managing low back pain, but there are solid principles to follow and that’s where this book greatly helps the reader.
To address back pain you have to understand basic principles around biomechanics of the spine and the mechanisms that cause injury.
Again this book covers all of that – and so much more.
Any reader, whether a back patient themselves or a coach or clinician working with a back pain patient, will have a much greater understanding and insight into preventing and rehabilitating low back pain.
As with training, there are no quick fixes in dealing with LBP. Rather, it’s a journey and a process.
I know this personally because it’s something I will be dealing with for the rest of my life.
To my knowledge, there is not another book available that is as comprehensive, yet practical on the topic by such an accomplished expert and authority.
Sure, there are other books on back pain (I have others, as well) but none of them are as research-based and biomechanically sound as the system that Dr. McGill has beautifully organized in the Back Mechanic.
I greatly admire his passion and scientific contributions to maximize performance and effectively rehabilitate patients and athletes who are dealing with low back pain issues.
It’s also important to note that this book is written in layman’s terms. It’s a book that’s meant to be read and applied by the reader, regardless of background.
While I love to nerd out out on the clinical terms and science, this book isn’t written that way.
It’s easy to understand and easy to put into action for all readers.
The goal of this book is simply to restore function and minimize risk for injury, as it pertains to the spine – that’s what you’ll get from reading this.
SUMMARY AND ACTION
I recommend the Back Mechanic to any person that’s interested in better understanding the mechanisms and rehabilitation of low back pain.
I’d call this “the essential book in back health.”
For a deeper understanding I would further recommend his great books Ultimate Back Fitness And Performance and Low Back Disorders (although the latter is specifically for the clinician who treats low back pain).
If you want to nerd out on spine biomechanics like I do, then consider these books.
At this point, I’ve recommended the Back Mechanic to several friends.
For the ones that have read and applied the material, the feedback has been fantastic.
One closing thought is the chapter on Building a Resilient Back is of extreme value.
This chapter covers the essential exercises including his non-negotiable “big 3” exercises:
- the curl-up
- the side bridge
- the bird-dog
I’m mentioning this because there is substantial research behind the effectiveness of these exercises.
While no single program can definitively be a “cure-all” for all patients, this approach is not only scientific, but fundamental as the basis for an effective spine health program.
Once again, this book is about taking control of low back pain, once and for all.
Here’s the harsh truth.
No one is going to fix your back.
That, my friend, is up to you.
That’s where this book can help.
You can get the Back Mechanic by Dr. Stuart McGill on Amazon.
You can also go to BackFitPro.com.
This book will help every reader to better understand the biomechanics of the spine to avoid injury and improve function and performance – that’s the bottom line.
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