I have been int the fitness industry for 35+ years and counting.  Though I have received my Emeritus award from the National Strength and Conditioning Association (1 of 3 women in the world blessed with this distinguished title), I cringe every time I see a some new move, exercise, or widget touted as NEW…Innovative….Revolutionary.  I first look on inquisitively, then, I feel so jaded.  Am I the only one?

Back in the day:

  • We used to chop wood bilaterally–now we have clients who sit all day, come to the gym to swing in poor form a huge rubber mallet into the ground.
  • We used to toss hay bales and carry feedbags–now we see clients and athletes tossing large boxing body bags, rolling huge tires, struggling with weighted medicine balls, and flailing ropes around in questionable form.
  •   We used to push heavy wheel barrels in tall form–now we add forward flexion to our already flexed spine and push heavy  sleds.
  • We used to ride bicycles and unicycles instead of standing on a huge clown swiss ball with feet clinging in supination (rolled outward) over a round surface.

This is not an advertisement:  ONLY A CHALLENGE!  

What is truly functional?  Is it possible we are doing moves in the name of function, replicating mechanisms of injury and delaminating our spines.  With all these fancy innovations, the recurrence of lower back pain and postural distortions are on the RISE.  What ever happened to treating the “CAUSE instead of the EFFECT?”  My favorite line I always say is “How can we train functionally if we don’t understand dysfunction?”  It is impossible!!!

  • FACT:  Back pain is the leading cause of disability in Americans under 45 years old.  Each year 13 million people go to the Doctor for chronic back pain.  The condition leaves 2.4 million people disabled and another 2.4 million Americans Temporarily disabled.  Overview:
    • Back pain is common. In the U.S., over 3 million visits to the emergency department are made annually for back pain symptoms. Worldwide, 84% of people will experience low back pain in their lifetime.
    • Back pain can be acute, subacute, or chronic. It most often occurs in the lower part of the back.
    • With proper self-care, most acute cases resolve within 4 – 6 weeks. Two-thirds of those patients, however, will have another episode of back pain within 12 months.


At some point I keep praying the widgets and exercise brilliance catch up to the research being published.

For 10 years I have had the honor of working with the Great Spine Biomechanist and researcher, Dr. Stuart McGill.  His new book:  The BACK MECHANIC is truly a great place to start.  It interprets the research and simply provides answers in an 3 billion dollar Fitness industry riddled with systems, exercises and widgets that clearly are part of the problem and not part of the solution (I am generalizing, but we all know form is KING.  Check the professional training the widget).

FITNESS PROFESSIONAL:  If you are in the fitness industry as a profession…question everything  and create research based solutions.  Educate yourself and get to workshops for Continuing education. Please go to Dr.  McGill’s site and buy every DVD and book you can afford…it will change the way you train you and your world (if interested 20% Discount code:  NSCA BRANDON).  Under Dr. McGills Direction the NSPT (AB-VANCED NEU-Spine(R) Performance Training Specialist Certification was created.  Get CEU’s and certified to be part of the solution if your tired of not delivering consistent solutions.

PARENTS:  If you are a parent worried about your child’s growth plates closing due to school sport and lifting coaching programs, get answers and take control of your child’s process.  You are not alone.  I have seen hundreds of brilliant junior destroyed by coaches with great intentions, however not knowing their “ass from a hot rock.”

COACHES:  Going to a weekend workshop or seeing a move on youtube without knowing the science and personalization of the form for each individual athlete is a problem.  No skipping the nuances and foundational connective tissue development necessary for progression without injury!  Hire a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist to guarantee progression and safety.  Mitigate and minimize your risk.  Please.

CLIENT LOOKING FOR RESULTS:  For the client walking into the gym, please do your due diligence.  Sit back and watch…trust your intuition and look for the professional going the extra mile.  Then check their credentials.  Please.

Do what you love for longer…If you have a spine…this is for you.

In strength,

Lee Brandon, CSCS, RSCC*E, NSPT 

Director of Velocity Lab “You can change what you can measure–Are you using the right measure?”