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McGill Big 3 - Back Pain Relief From The Lower Back Legend

The McGill big 3 is a set of 3 exercises designed to build stiffness and strength in the lower back, mitigating lower back pain. Designed by the great Dr. Stuart McGill, the McGill big 3 are popular in the physical therapy and back pain relief communities due to the sheer effectiveness and ease to do for lower back pain relief.

mcgill big 3 exercises

Dr. Stuart McGill - Creator Of The McGill Big 3


Why Follow The McGill Big 3?

The success stories of Dr. Stuart McGill and his clients speak for themselves. Dr. McGill's McGill big 3 movements have taken countless folks from debilitating pain to complete lower back pain freedom.

Dr. McGill is the most famous back doctor of our generation, with more experience and testimonials than anyone. He has published 3 books on the lower back and accumulated decades of research on the subject of lower back health.

You should follow the McGill big 3 because this guy is a lower back genius.

What Are The McGill Big 3 Exercises?

The McGill big 3 are a set of 3 exercises, designed to build up stiffness and stability in supporting areas of the lower back. Each of the 3 exercises is extremely intentional and targets a different area of the core/trunk. You may find strength lacking in one or more of the McGill big 3 exercises - pay attention to this and build up any weaknesses that the movements expose. Do not neglect a single one of the McGill big 3.

McGill Big 3 Exercise 1: Modified Curl-Up

mcgill big 3 curl up

The Modified Curl Up is the McGill big 3 movement that targets the abdominal muscles in the front of the body. Abdominal rigidity and strength is huge in lower back health - this is a great low risk, high activation way to teach these muscle to brace. There are a ton of important cues that go with this movement - watch the video below for the best tips and insight.

McGill Big 3 Exercise 2: Side Plank

mcgill big 3 side plank

Moving to the side of the trunk, the Side Plank is the McGill big 3 exercise that targets the side muscles of the core. The main workers in the Side Plank position are the Quadratus Lumborum (QL) and Obliques - 2 muscle groups crucial in spine strength, stability, and pain relief.

McGill Big 3 Exercise 3: Bird Dog

mcgill big 3 bird dog

Lastly, we have the Bird Dog McGill big 3 movement targeting the backside of the trunk, the last angle of the core. This is by far the most incorrectly done McGill big 3 exercise in my opinion - watch the video below for cues, tempos, and tips on how to get the most out of the Bird Dog exercise.

McGill Big 3 Video Walkthrough

Here are the McGill big 3 in action - subscribe to Back Muscle Solutions for more!

18 minute McGill Big 3 follow along:


5 minute McGill Big 3 summary:

Read Next:

QL and Psoas Muscles

Cable Back Workouts

Lower Back Pain When Running


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