We wanted to share with some exercise for your low back that is collectively known as McGill’s Big Three. They’re called McGill’s Big Three because they are named after the esteemed and uncomparable. Dr. Stuart McGill. 

First, why would we prescribe McGill’s Big Three?

Well, with 31 million Americans suffering back pain at any one time, it is important for us to tell you what is helpful and what is not. For instance, when a disc is herniated, a common response we see is the tendency to stretch your back thinking that will help ease it up some.

However, that can often be one of the worst things you can do for it. stretching may be helpful but it must be in the right way and in the right direction. Otherwise, you aggravate the condition and make the pain worse. Dr. Mcgill recommends endurance exercises to help patients avoid awkward postures that can lead to the onset of pain. The proper movement comes from endurance. 

With that in mind, Dr. McGill put his Big Three together to build true spinal stability and endurance


Our first of the three exercises is The McGill Curl-up

Step 1 is to lie on your back and extend one leg and bend the knee of the other leg

Step 2, you put your hands under the lower back to maintain the natural arch of your spine. 

Step 3 is to pull your head, shoulders, and chest off of the floor. Just as if they were all locked together. Lift them all up as one unit. Don’t tuck your chin or let your head tilt back. 

Hold it for 10 seconds. 

Slowly lower yourself back to the ground and then do it again with the other leg bent. 


Our second exercise is The Side Bridge

Step 1 for this one is to lie on your side, with your forearm on the floor and your elbow underneath your shoulder. Place your hand on the opposing shoulder to stabilize your torso and pull your feet back so the knees are at a 90 degree. 

Step 2 is to lift the hips off of the floor and hold for 10 seconds trying to maintain a straight line from your head down to your knees. Make sure the hips are in line with the rest of the body. Then do the other side. For an extra challenge, straighten the legs instead of bending them like you see Genna doing here. 


The last exercise is called the Bird Dog – you’ll see why in just a minute. 

Step One is to get on your hands and knees on the floor. 

Step Two – Raise the left arm forward while simultaneously extending your right leg back until both are parallel to the floor. Ensure the hips are aligned with the torso and no tilted to one side or the other. 

Hold this for 10 seconds then repeat on the other side. 

Again, these are meant to specifically help you build that spinal stability, endurance, and core.