Friday, February 28, 2014

Stradling Hosts Long Drive Golf Phenomenon Lee Brandon

Stradling Announces Illustrious Guest Speakers for Liquidity Panel at Oasis Summit, Hosts Long Drive Golf Phenomenon Lee Brandon in Breakout Area - 

What an honor to be invited to be part of this amazing event!  We will "ROCK" the Oasis.  Come on down and see the secrets of Champions.
First Woman to be hired in the NFL,  2 Time Olympic Coach, 2 Time World Long Drive Champion in golf

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Golf Again! Depressed By Back Pain?

Hi, My name is Harry from Los Angeles and I am 65 years old; I have played golf for 45+ years.  
Member at the Beautiful Peivate Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, CA.

For the last many years (over 10+), right leg sciatica back pain caused by herniated discs, scoliosis (aggressive lateral shift over 45 degrees) and spinal stenosis had greatly reduced my ability to play the game I love.   On a pain scale, I lived at 8's and 9's (10 being the most pain)!  I tried every stretching program and Physical Therapy option to no avail.  Nothing seemed to help.

I was very depressed, although I never lost hope of recovering. 

I was a good player, reached a 1 handicap in my prime. Went to many Doctors and tried many different techniques, but nothing worked for 10 years. (I had decided that I was never going to undergo surgery, nor any of these other extreme modalities.) 
Until I went to get core strengthening and golf-specific training with Lee Brandon and the AB-Inforcer® Core Biofeedback Training System.   After 18 months of specifically designed gym exercises and drills, and consistently doing the correct exercises on my own, I can now report I am finally better, stronger, and able to play 18 holes with almost no pain(.5 on the pain scale).
At the beginning of our sessions with Lee, I was in pain and we would grade the intensity of the pain (*1 minimal pain-10 maximal pain) and design the correct strengthening exercises accordingly.  
I was walking crooked, and bent forward as my upper body had laterally shifted to avoid the low back pain. I am still slightly shifted, but feel 2" inches taller and my scoliosis has diminished substantially. 
Before a round of golf, I could only hit about 10 practice shots on the range, otherwise the pain would build up and prevent me from swinging with any confidence on the course, so afraid to hurt myself further.   
After 12 weeks (2X's a week 12 coaching sessions) I was noticeably managing my pain by her education. One and 18 months of taking out my old exercises and reinventing all of my training, stretching, and swing with Lee, I am finally in a new place!
I am pain free and stronger than ever!!!!  My drives were 160-180, now I hit drives in excess of 220-230 yards.  
The other day, I hit balls on the range for almost one hour, without pain!!!  Now I can finally work on correcting all the bad habits that have crept into my swing during the last many years, dealing with my debilitating pain.
For those of you out there with a similar situation, the message is: "you can improve your condition with even basic, non invasive techniques, if well customized for your specific situation.  You don't have to live in pain!  Lee has the secrets." 


It's always exciting to get these powerful testimonials from those we are blessed to assist with their path to freedom from pain!  My cautionary note to all of you:  seek a credentialed specialist, then get a second opinion, a third…until you feel it resonate down deep inside of you as part of your solution!  If your still hurting, something is wrong!!!
Be careful self diagnosing.  Those of us who have been teaching performance enhancement for years, are still in business for a reason--we focus on delivering personalized solutions.  
The internet is full of too much information…or should I say mis information.  There are even protocols and exercise strategies to get you out of pain on-line that claim to do miraculous things.  Buyer beware…and if it's sounds too good…the old saying is true.
If Harry's story is your story, I have to share that his tireless efforts and drive to execute my "Spine Sparing Secrets" were driven by his goal to be pain free!  
He had the courage to take a "time out" from all the injurious things he had been doing prior to including my training system into his life until we addressed the "causes of his discomfort and stopped managing the effect!"  

Come out and support the LPGA.  I will be at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, CA.  If your interested in a complementary meet and greet, I have arranged a few blocks of hours to meet you all and answer your questions.  Email me for the details at

Mission Hills Country Club

Rich in tradition, Mission Hills Country Club epitomizes the true vision of a private club. Unparalleled golf, tennis, croquet, fitness, and spa create first-class facilities for a truly world-class country club experience. The shining jewel and true sense of the Club, however, can be found in the exceptional Members and Member service, our warm staff who welcomes you to your home away from home, and the magic moments you experience when you step into the world of Mission Hills Country Club. As one of the most prestigious clubs in the Coachella Valley and a true year round club, Mission Hills Country Club continues to enhance the service and amenities we offer our Members and the over 200 new members each year.


  • Voted numerous times the No. 1 Private Country Club in the Coachella Valley
  • Voted numerous times No. 1 Private Golf Course in the Coachella Valley
  • 2009 USTA Tennis Facility of the Year in the United States
  • 2012 USCA Croquet Facility of the Year in the United States

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Walk Again! Dallas Project Walk

 I had the honor of working for 3 days in Dallas at the amazing Project Walk program.  If you're looking for inspiration today….look no further!

The old saying:  "The good teacher learns from the student," resonated with me as I stood silently inside one of the most awe inspiring, hope-filled facilities I've ever had the honor of visiting and working in.

Most of you who know me, know I've been blessed to travel the world and have seen numerous premier training facilities…NFL, NBA, NHL, OLYMPICS included.

At Dallas Project Walk, the focus, enthusiasm, and energy were palpable, as young and old pressed with every breath, to WALK AGAIN!

We all know the value of core strength and it's connection to movement.  My challenge was to see if what I've researched and invented regarding the spine, spine and joint mechanics had any relevance here!  I know about training Olympians, Professionals, Celebrities, and regular Joe's who just want to perform better.
This was no different! One young man pictured here stated:  "I just want to get my legs straight and stand flat with both feet on the ground!"  We worked for 45' minutes, and the results were visible with the smiles.
I just wasn't sure of the relevance or sure that there was any crossover effect in this environment?  There is minimal or no research on the relevance of core biofeedback and spinal cord disorders!  Shocking, I know!
I was blessed to spend 3 days with clients, staff, and family of those challenged by life altering events, and see if there was any additional stone we could flip over together.
I committed to being more eye's and ears…and learned so much in those few days.  It was highly technical  and the responses were consistently overwhelming.   I am still processing what we found out that day.  For the sake of this blog, I will share the inspiration and hope that maybe one of you know researchers that are interested in spinal cord research and help us explore the unexplainable positive responses manifested from our work on countless survivors and fighters that day.
This young man, lost the use of his entire torso from the neck down and had not been able to straighten his legs in months.  He was a runner and just wanted to new able to stretch out his legs.

He for the first time could feel deep muscles engaging and
see them on the AB-Inforcer using the Core Biofeedback
for positional awareness.
We turned on his core muscles, made him aware that his head and neck kept shooting forward to assist him, but that wasn't helpful.  

We gradually stood him up progressing him to both feet on the ground and the entire room stopped because since his accident he had not been able to get both feet flat on the floor no matter how much stretching was done!

This was an unbelievable moment.

By the end of the day, this young man's balance
improved exponentially by using the techniques
of the "Lights On" Core biofeedback!
The owner of Dallas Project Walk, Kendal Hall, had a horrible car accident and tragically emerged after the accident as a quadriplegic.   Her loss has not stopped nor slowed this young womens dream to walk again!  She has dedicated her life to looking for solutions that might help others in any way!

Their loss is not their story,…their spirit and fight are!

She strives minute-by-minute to get sensation back and fight the battle.  I was so humbled to be part of this revolutionary process.  I walked away feeling so blessed to tell their story, responsible to expedite research to help them on their miraculous path!

Please don't hesitate reaching out to donate to their facility.  They have scholarships that they give to those who can't afford their training(insurance doesn't cover it, and if it does it is minimal.  Their system runs on donations.

If any of you can take a moment and search your contacts and find scholars and researchers who have the grant money to assist with research, plea contact me at

Finally,  their struggle made me keenly aware of my many blessings…even on the worst days, they take all my excuses away!  Get up and do something now, life can change in an instant.

Sitting up tall, unassisted!

palpating hip flexors and core muscles…
On AB-Inforcer Core Biofeedback Trainer provided
support, massage, and then lights and sound for ideal
postural positioning and engagement of postural core muscles.

Working on turning on core
muscles and learning to hip hinge!
The room stopped and cheered as Kendal
 drove her legs forward…the smile tells the story!

Please don't hesitate reaching out to donate to their facility.  They have scholarships that they give to those who can't afford their training (insurance doesn't cover it, and if it does it is minimal).  Their system runs on donations.

If any of you can take a moment and search your contacts and find scholars and researchers who have the grant money to assist with research, plea contact me at  

Finally,  their struggle made me keenly aware of my many blessings…even on the worst days, they take all my excuses away!  Get up and do something now, life can change in an instant.
In Strength,
Lee Brandon, CSCS

Monday, February 3, 2014

All Things Are Possible: Salute Military Golf Assoc. Amputee Project

Core strength is critical to stand in prosthetics!
The same similar strength is necessary to find your center...

...if you have both legs, one leg or none!

Oprah at Walter Reed Medical Hospital Amputee clinic

The Salute Military Golf Association (SMGA)
The Salute Military Golf Association (SMGA) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation whose mission is to provide rehabilitative golf experiences for combat-wounded veterans in an effort to improve the quality of life for these American heroes.

Lee Brandon, CSCS: Founder and President of AB-Vanced NEU- Spine® Technologies, LLC and 2 Time Women’s World Long Drive Champion, is a survivor of a near amputation of her left arm. Deeply touched by loss, she has dedicated her energies to promoting organizations like SMGA to help provide motivation, inspiration and education around “Core training” to our challenged heroes.


Before I started using the AB-inforcer I had constant pain and stiffness in my lower back. I don't know if it was caused by carrying around my young son, pilates, yoga, life... but nothing I tried to fix it worked. I had been told it might be arthritis and that spinal fusion surgery might help. Yikes! Luckily, I found the AB-inforcer. Within two months my back pain was gone! I've been pain free for a year now and know that it was simply a matter of not exercising with the correct postural awareness. The AB-inforcer is a no-brainer for anyone who has back pain. I consider it a life saver!

Teri's Trainer, Lee Brandon, CSCS (Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist), stated:  "though there are many reasons for back pain, most experts can agree that training your core muscles in good form is the first line of defense to protect the spine!  The AB-Inforcer(R) Core biofeedback trainer is a tool in our arsenal that allows me as a professional to see quantitatively that the spine is not flattening, while the correct muscles are engaging in good neutral zones.  Teri is an exemplary case, but it is a tribute to her doing her AB-Inforcer drills everyday, lifting weights twice a week, and being committed to modifying damaging habits (repetitively sitting, bending and lifting in poor posture)."

Teri's story is common.  Many of us concede to back pain blaming it on age or irreparable injury with no solution.  "  This is not always the case," says Lee. (read more)

Double Mastectomy Survivor at 80 Trains like a Champion

By Leatrice of Los Angeles
Age:  80
Santa Monica, California:  "My Life is Mine Once More--I Feel More Like Me"

"A few years ago I had to go through a radical double mastectomy. Everything in my life changed.  Though the surgery was successful, my life had changed.   I had such difficulty reaching, bending, lifting;  Basic functioning on daily activities was challenged at best.  For example, I couldn't reach for the same dishes.  My upper body was stiff and my arms were unable to straighten or stretch!  Due to the surgery, I found a downward cascading affect on my bodies performance and started having horrible back problems.  I was forced to use a cane.  The epidurals recommended by my Doctor for pain relief, did not provide me a long term solution.  I was frustrated with Physical Therapy, and at my wits end!
When I started training using the AB-Inforcer*,  I no longer needed my cane to help me walk.  I started stretching and using weights, and I am no longer bent over walking because I am aware of better posture and my balance has even improved.  I can reach, bend, sit, and do my life and FEEL MORE LIKE ME!!!  My life is mine once more!"
**WARNING: *Results may vary depending on your special circumstances.  Please speak to your health care provider and fitness professional before beginning any exercise program!
Laughing on the bike!

Enjoying a stretch with a smile!


On paper this 80+ year old survivor knows that the odds were stacked against her.
She had survived a double mastectomy a few years ago and had been in the gym training to develop her overall strength and conditioning(full story May 16th, 2011).
Leigh smiling in intensive care

She was struck in a head on collision in November 16th, 2011, that landed her in intensive care and  on a respirator for 5 days in ICU with extreme internal bleeding, and a broken wrist in 3 places from the high speed deployment of the airbag.

Doctors were amazed at how soon Leatrice was able to be up and around and self-sufficient.

How many of us find ourselves in difficult circumstances and don't see our way through the maze of being injured?

Dr. Stuart Mc Gill, Expert on Spine Biomechanics and Professor at University of Waterloo in Canada, stated:  "the two greatest moves we can learn to execute for the rest of our lives is the  "POTTY SQUAT, and a STEP UP."

After training at the gym for two years, and learning the finer skills of a hip hinge (Potty Squat, or box squat), the first words out of Leatrice's mouth to me the first day back to the gym (8 weeks after this near fatal accident, was..."YOU SAVED MY LIFE.  Learning how to use my glutes (Buttocks muscles) allowed me to get back onto my feet faster!"

BAD RIB ROCKED DRUMMER: Core Training Added Precision to Percussion

Bo Jacobson, drummer for the Terry Byrne Band and plays bass in Automatik Slim (Tom Pettys son's band). 
Also, he works alongside composer Alan Lazar, producing the music for the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and Orange County on Bravo. 

Santa Monica, CA:  Bo Jacobson, Musician and student, shares his story of overcoming pain.

I originally came to Lee with a displaced rib that I had injured from working out with improper technique.

After the first session, I was so impressed with her knowledge and expertise that I asked to see her at least twice a week. In six months, she has helped transform my health and body. 

She stresses proper technique which has made me feel extremely confident in the gym knowing I am not putting anything at risk while getting the most from each rep. My previous collapsed posture and lower back problems have vanished and I have never felt healthier in my life. 

She introduced me to the ab-inforcer, which is by far the most incredible abdominal workout I have ever done in my life. It demands proper technique, which will make your abs stronger than ever while protecting your lower back and neck. I decided to purchase my own and is simple and easy to use. I get on it twice a day for a minute to two minutes each time and have found it to be the most effective way to strengthen my core. Coincidently, my work as a musician has also improved. 

As a drummer, having proper technique and consistency is very important and there is no doubt in my mind that my proper posture and strength has only improved my playing. My job as a composer also has me stuck to a chair for hours on end, but being aware of my tall posture and proper stretches keeps me from going to bed with a sore body. 

Lee is one of the best out there. She will work at a comfortable speed with you while pushing you to your limits. I feel healthier, stronger and more confident because of the training I have done with her and recommend her and the ab-inforcer to anyone looking for the most effective, proper way to train.

A TRAVELERS LIFE: Iron Man, Olympians and Travelers

Iron Man, Olympians and Travelers
By Lee Brandon, CSCS 
Your spine is meant to have curves! Sitting for long bouts on a train, plane or automobile can cause unhealthy compressions in the spine. Couple that with repetitive lifting of luggage, and you have a recipe for back pain or injury. Travelers might attend a yoga or exercise class to relieve stress and back pain while traveling, however the New York Times might argue otherwise. On Jan. 5, 2012, they published an article titled “How yoga can wreck your body.” This article sounded an alarm heard around the fitness world! So, yoga can be beneficial for some, but not for everyone. In the midst of so much mixed information, are there any exercises or stretches that truly offer an achy seasoned traveler relief? How about in the privacy of their hotel room? My answer is a resounding “Yes, with NEU Spine® Training.” 
Understanding a ‘Neutral Spine’ position is critical. (1) In other words, you can strengthen your back without putting undue stress and strain on your discs, facets and ligaments. A Neutral Spine is defined as, “The place where your spine absorbs forces the best,” which means neither bent forward into full flexion or bent backward into hyperextension. Keeping your head and shoulders balanced over your hips and feet will keep the neutral curves in the spine intact! Archaic protocols geared toward helping damaged, inflamed discs or facet joints in the lower spine end up putting additional unnecessary strain. So, tired, traveling spines need to really be cautious! Your spine training needs be pain-free. 
I always say: “Pre-hab. not Re-hab.” or “Strengthen not Strain.” 
It is imperative that you attain and maintain your Postural Stabilizers as much as possible before, during and after travel. “Strengthening your core muscles will reduce mechanical irritation upon [your] discs and facets, lessening your pain.”(3) It will also allow you to enjoy more of your up-time (time spent standing and walking). 
Will these exercises really help with my travel? 
Yes! NEU-Spine® exercises for your core and lower back are recommended by several well-respected sources (9, 10, 11). In fact, there are increasing numbers of high quality randomized controlled studies which demonstrate that, “Core Stabilizing Exercises have a profoundly positive and long-term effect on both decreasing lower back pain and improving over-all performance and function” (5,6,7,8). I have Olympians and other personal clients perform the basic “90/90 Brace” exercise daily on the floor with towels. 
Myself and Marcus Rogan (Two-time Olympic Silver Medalist in swimming currently training for the 2012 Olympics in London) states that, “The [AB-Inforcer®] hand piece lights up when you do it right!” 
He is referring to the machine’s hand-held signaling system that uses a series of lights to tell users when both sides of the spinal muscles are in alignment and active. 
Marcus on the AB-Inforcer®. If you successfully complete the NEU-Spine® exercises on towels and need a challenge, then take your spine mastery to the next level with the AB-Inforcer tool.
*Roll up a towel for the curve in your neck.  
Fold a bath towel to be positioned under your belly button.  Hold 1’ and breathe!  Or…

Remember all your strength and power comes from your core. If your core is weak then your arms, legs and head are also weak. Don’t believe me? Ask Iron Man; he used this tool in his training workouts. 

Lee Brandon is a strength and conditioning expert who specializes in evaluating and assessing postural biomechanics and function. She is the two-time World Long-Drive Champion in Golf. She currently holds multiple patents to one of the best-kept secrets in Hollywood for training the core called the AB-Inforcer® and is the inventor of the AB-Vanced Neu-Spine® Training Systems. Lee is the former Assistant Strength Coach for the New York Jets football team. Also she is an internationally known coach, teacher and motivational speaker and works as a consultant to many celebrities, olympians, veterans, universities, professional athletes and teams. She has been seen on ESPN, the Golf Channel, and highlighted in Sports Illustrated and Golf Digest. For more information, visit 
  • 1. Yilmaz F, et al. "Efficacy of Dynamic Lumbar Stabilization Exercise in lumbar microdiscectomy." J Rehabil Med 
  •            2003; 35:163-167
  • 3. Panjabi MM. "The stabilizing system of the spine: Part I. function , dysfunction, adaptation, and enhancement." J 
  •            Spinal Disord 1992; 5(4):383-389
  • 5. O'Sullivan PB, et al. "Evaluation of specific stabilizing exercise in the treatment of chronic low back pain with 
  •            radiologic diagnosis of spondylolysis or spondylolisthesis." Spine 1997; 22(24): 2959-67. 
  • 6. Hides JA, et al. "Multifidus muscle recovery is not automatic after resolution of acute, first-episode low back pain." 
  •            Spine 2001; 26:243-8. 
  • 7. Hides JA, et al. " Long term effects of specific stabilizing exercises for first episode low back pain." 
  •            Spine 2001:26:243-8
  • 8. Goldby L, et al. "An RCT investigating the efficasy of manual therapy, exercises to rehabilitate spinal stabilization 
  •           and an education booklet in the conservative treatment of chronic low back pain. In: Proceedings of 
  •           International Federation of manipulative Therapists. Perth, Australia: 2000 
  • 9. Albright J. “Philadelphia Panel evidence-based clinical practice guidelines on selected rehabilitation interventions for 
  •            low back pain.” Phys Ther. 2001 ;81:1641-1674 
  • 10. Bekkering G et al. “ KNGF-richtlijn Lage-rugpijn. Ned Tijdschr Fysiother, 2001 ;111( suppl):3 
  • 11. Spitzer W, et al. “Scientific approach to the assessment and management of activity-related spinal disorders: a 
  •            monograph for clinicians: Report of Quebec Task Force on Spinal Disorders.” Spine 1987; 12(suppl):1-59

AB-Inforcer Clinically Significant In Peer Reviewed Medical Publications

Physical Therapist's at State Convention Learn Core Exercises from Lee Brandon, CSCS, using the Total gym and the AB-Inforcer(R) as tools for their clinics Therapeutic Exercise programs

Did you know?  Your muscles may be one of the primary culprits to back discomfort?  According to the Magazine Bottom Line Health, back surgery us one of the most "over performed" operations in the US.

  • FACT: Half of the 400,000 back surgeries performed in the US each year do not work or are unnecessary, according to the Norman Marcus Pain Institute.
  • FACT:  Many back patients will improve without surgery, if the underlying cause can be treated with correct exercise!
  • FACT:  The most common diagnosis for back patients is "non-specific Lower back pain."  This just shows that the experts source of the pain is unknown!
  • FACT:  In a study of more than 20,000 back patients, 70-80% had muscle and soft tissue injuries, which cannot reliably be identified with standard tests.  Many of these patients receive back surgery for a structural problem when a muscle injury is really to blame, according to Dr. Norman Marcus, MD, professor at New York University.


Annually, I am sought after by disgruntled folks who have searched for solutions for their back discomfort.  I have numerous Doctors refer me clients who need 2 things:

  • Daily exercises that effectively "turn on" the muscles that get interrupted or shut off due to pain!
    • Walk daily
    • Do core drills that work the spine through it's neutral zones (avoid end range)!
  • A sound stretching routine specific to individual flexibility range of motion.
In 30 years of performing AB-Vanced NEU-Spine(R) strengthening and stretching drills**, preliminary clinical research now supports what we have always known:  good form in strengthening and stretching is essential to developing good core strength endurance and stronger muscles!  6-12 week exercise core strength and stretching programs make a difference.  

** Results may vary.  Always consult your Doctor and Health Care provider prior to adding any new exercises or stretching to your routine.  If it hurts, stop immediately and consult your Physical Therapist.

One of the useful tools in our arsenal, is the AB-Inforcer(R) Core Trainer that is now being used in over 300 locations for "BAD BACKS TO ELITE PERFORMANCE."  

Two recent clinical studies show the AB-Inforcer's clinical significance, but also highlight the need for more research.   It has been found to be an invaluable biofeedback tool in perfecting the form in stretches and strengthening the core.

For the graphs and pictures in the full clinical study, search the titles below:  

Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise:
May 2011 - Volume 43 - Issue 5 - p 914
doi: 10.1249/01.MSS.0000402553.30661.55
G-37 Free Communication/Poster - Fitness and Peformance Testing for Posture, Stability, and Balance: JUNE 4, 2011 7:30 AM - 11:00 AM: ROOM: Hall B

Examination of an Objective Biofeedback Device to Develop Core Strength and Stability: 3161: Board #124 June 4 9:30 AM - 11:00 AM
Sell, Katie1; Yeomans, Steven2
Author Information
1Hofstra University, Hempstead, NY. 2Yeomans-Edinger Chiropractic Center, Ripon, WI. Email:
(No relationships reported)

To elicit optimal development of the core musculature a training protocol or device should minimize unwanted movement of the trunk and maximize core muscle recruitment during a given exercise. Commercial training devices are common features within exercise facilities, however there is debate over the efficacy of such devices regarding their ability to generate greater improvements in core endurance or stability relative to traditional training modalities.

PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of a core training program using the AB-Inforcer® device versus a mat-based program on core strength and stability in a healthy adult population.

METHODS: Thirty-six healthy volunteers (23±5 yrs; 170.5±10.7 cm; 74.9±18.5 kg) were randomly assigned to one of three study groups: 1) a standard mat-based (MT) group, 2) an AB-Inforcer® (AB-I) group, or 3) a control (CON) group with no prescribed treatment. Conditions were matched for sex only (6 men and 6 women in each group), with participation age pre-defined. The MT and AB-I groups performed identical core exercises during a 6-week intervention. Subjects were assessed before and after the training program for core strength and stability using the following tests: 1) flexor endurance test (FE), 2) Biering-Sorenson test (BS), 3) side-bridge tests for the right (SBR) and left (SBL) trunk, and 4) Sahrmann core stability test (SA).

RESULTS:  A repeatedmeasures multivariate analysis of variance revealed significant main andinteraction effects (for time and time by treatment group, respectively). 
Post-hoc analyses revealed that the improvement inpost-intervention SBR and SBL shown by the AB-I group was significantly greater(p<0 .05=".05" and="and" change="change" con="con" groups.="groups." in="in" mt="mt" observed="observed" span="span" than="than" the="the">
 The AB-I groupalso showed significantly greater improvements in FE and SA scores relative tothe CON group . 
SA scores in the AB-I group increased by 28.9% compared to 6.9% inthe MT group and a 14% decrease in the CON group.

CONCLUSION: The AB-Inforcer® device generated greater improvements in side-bridge scores in this adult population, and non-significant improvements in core stability. Future research using a larger sample size and longer training intervention is suggested to fully evaluate the utility of this device as a training modality.:

©2011The American College of Sports Medicine
Journal of Exercise Physiologyonline Volume 14 Number 5 October 2011
Electromyographic Analysis of Abdominal and Lower Back Muscle Activation During Abdominal Exercises Using an Objective Biofeedback Device
Katie Sell1, Jamie Ghigiarelli1, Jayne Kitsos1, Jeanmarie Burke2, Steven Yeomans3
1Department of Health Professions and Kinesiology, Hofstra University, Hempstead, NY, 2Department of Research, New York Chiropractic College, Seneca Falls, NY, 3Yeomans-Edinger Chiropractic Center SC, Ripon, WI

Sell KM, Ghigiarelli J, Kitsos KM, Burke J, Yeomans SG.

Electromyographic Analysis of Abdominal and Lower Back Muscle Activation During Abdominal Exercises Using an Objective Biofeedback Device. 
JEPonline 2011;14(5):54-65. 

Core training devices are common features within exercisefacilities. However the efficacy of such devices in generating improvements incore muscle function above that of conventional modalities is debatable. Thepurpose of this study was to compare abdominal and low back muscle activationduring common abdominal exercises using an abdominal device (the AB-Inforcer©;AB-I) and a conventional exercise mat (MT). Fifty-three adults (30 men, 23women; 25 ± 4.7 yrs; 74.9 ± 13.3 kg; 172.7 ± 9.1 cm) volunteered to participatein this study. The mean electromyography (EMG) activity of the upper and lowerregions of the rectus abdominis (URA and LRA, respectively), external oblique(EO), and paraspinal (PS) muscles was measured during three exercises on theAB-I and MT. Each participant performed five repetitions of the followingexercises: (1) traditional crunch; (2) split leg scissors; and (3) bilateralheel drops. All three exercises performed using the AB-I resulted insignificantly greater mean EMG activation for the right- and left-side URA,LRA, and right-side EO muscles (>0.05). No significant differences were observed between the AB-Iand MT for the PS muscles during any of the three exercises. Theadditional resistance and feedback provided by the AB-I may have facilitatedthe increase in AB-I evoked abdominal muscle activation observed inthis study. Ongoing research is necessary to further investigate the use of theAB-I as an abdominal training device that could be used by exercise andtherapeutic practitioners for sport-specific or rehabilitative core training.

Key Words: Abdominal Exercise, Training Device, Muscle Activation, Electromyography

The lumbo-pelvic hip complex or musculature of the core provide an essential foundation for purposeful movement of the entire kinetic chain (9,14). The core musculature and its function has been described in depth in previous literature (9,17,18,21). Improvements in core strength and stability may improve agility, balance, movement co-ordination, and force production (11), as well as reduce injury potential and prevalence for low back pain (3,8,15,16,21). Consequently, core training has become an integral component of conditioning and rehabilitation programs implemented by strength and conditioning coaches, athletic trainers, personal trainers, and physical therapists in recent years (2,13,21).
The core musculature is imperative for: (a) facilitating control of the trunk during dynamic movement; (b) helping to maintain postural control; (c) optimizing energy transfer through the kinetic chain; and (d) resisting unwanted movement of the trunk/body against a given force (7,15). To generate improvements in the core musculature, the target muscles must be sufficiently activated. Core activation and stabilization is demonstrated when a combination of the muscles of the pelvic floor, transversus abdominis, rectus abdominis, internal and external obliques, and lower back muscles (e.g., erector spinae, multifidus, quadratus lumborum) are activated or exhibiting co-contraction. The co-contraction of various deep abdominal muscles and the paraspinal muscles also provides an additional stabilizing effect, often prior to any limb movement, and resists excessive lumbar extension or rotation (9,17,18,21). Weaknesses in the muscles of the lumbo-pelvic and core region, including but not limited to those involved in hip adduction, abduction, and rotation, are associated with increased likelihood of injury (3,6).
Electromyography (EMG) analysis has been used extensively to provide quantifiable feedback on muscle activation and recruitment during a given exercise performance (14). In an EMG analysis of muscle activation during a crunch abdominal exercise on 4 portable exercise machines - Ab Roller Plus (Quantum North America, Glendale, CA), Torso Track II (Fitness Quest Inc., Canton, OH), AB- Doer Pro (Thane Fitness, La Quinta, CA), and Perfect Abs (Guthy-Renker, Santa Monica, CA) - versus that of a traditional abdominal crunch, only the Perfect Abs machine was able to elicit abdominal muscle activity equivalent to or greater than that of the traditional crunch in the absence of additional resistance (19). Exercises on the Abshaper (Copperart Stores, Glendenning, NSW, Australia) generated significantly higher EMG activation in the upper rectus abdominis (URA) and significantly lower activation in the sternocleidomastoid muscles compared with traditional exercises (20). In addition, no differences were observed in the lower aspect of the rectus abdominis (LRA) or external oblique (EO) muscles on either side (20). The CORE X device (Core X System LLC, was able to elicit significantly greater EMG activation in the URA and LRA and multifidi muscles compared to traditional core exercises. Consistent with previous studies, no significant difference was observed for the EO muscles (16).

Numerous commercial abdominal training devices are currently available to exercise practitioners and the general public (1), many are widely advertised to optimize improvements in function (and aesthetics) of the core musculature. Given the accessibility of the devices, the popularity of core training programs, and the disparity in research findings, studies examining the effectiveness of these devices to generate the proposed muscular improvements are needed in order to provide exercise practitioners, therapists, and strength and conditioning personnel with useful information.
Core training exercises or exercise device should help improve muscular function and not predispose or increase the likelihood of injury. A new abdominal exercise device, the AB-Inforcer® (AB-I; AB- Vanced Neu-Spine®, Los Angeles, CA) (Figure 1) provides biofeedback to the user to increase his or her awareness of body alignment, promote a neutral posture, and optimize the activation of core muscles while completing a core training exercise. This immediate feedback is given visually (lights), physically (vibration), and through sound. The device has a supportive cushion for the lumbar and cervical regions, which promotes the neutral position of the spine during exercises. It is also designed to minimize any unwanted head or neck movement. A “neutral” posture suggests that in the supine position there is a small gap between the lumbar spine and the floor (i.e., the back should not be flat on the floor or excessively arched) (13).
Figure 1. The AB-Inforcer® device (AB-I; AB-Vanced Neu-Spine®, Los Angeles, CA). During an exercise, the head is placed on the large red sensor (far right), and the lower back positioned on the two small circular red sensors.
No studies have compared activation of the core musculature during core training exercises on the AB-I relative to conventional training modalities. The AB-I may help minimize unwanted movement of the trunk and facilitate a “neutral” posture throughout a given exercise, which in turn may help optimize muscle recruitment and activation of the core musculature. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to compare the abdominal and low back muscle activation generated during a variety of abdominal exercises using the AB-I, compared to the traditional mat-based approach. It was hypothesized that the muscle activation would be greater during each exercise while on the AB-I compared to the same exercise on a standard exercise mat.

Fifty-seven healthy volunteers were recruited for this study. Recruitment occurred through a snowball approach initiated in physical activity and exercise science classes at a university in the north east region of the United States. The following exclusion criteria were used for this study: (a) low back pain that exceeded one week in duration within the past six months; (b) prior lower back or abdominal surgery or tumor, infection, cauda equine, or fracture; (c) undergoing current treatment for lower back pain; (d) presence of significant congenital abnormalities of the spine; (e) presence of health-related contraindications to physical activity; and (f) prior use of the AB-I device. Participation was also limited to just individuals with sufficiently low subcutaneous adipose tissue to increase the accuracy of the muscle activity measure. If subcutaneous adipose tissue was too high, surface electrode measures of muscle activity would be inhibited.
Prior to participation and after receiving an explanation of the study protocol, each participant completed a university-approved informed consent form and a medical health history questionnaire. Approval from the university Institutional Review Board for the inclusion of human subjects was obtained prior to study initiation.

Exercise Devices and Exercise Selection
Two exercise conditions were tested for each exercise. These exercise conditions included the AB-I (AB-Vanced Neu-Spine®, Los Angeles, CA) and an exercise mat (5/8 inch thick; MT). The AB-I is a device with a supportive cushion for the lumbar and cervical regions of the back, which promotes the neutral position of the spine during exercises, and is designed to minimize any unwanted head or neck movement. The AB-I is designed to turn sensors on or off for the neck, the upper back, and the lumbar/abdominal regions depending on need during a given AB-I based exercise. For each of the AB-I exercises, the participant assumed the correct position on the device prior to any test or exercise (e.g., tailbone on the red tailbone registration triangle, belly button in line with the registration nubs on the side of the device). All exercises on the AB-I took place while the AB-I was in the “exercise” (as opposed to “stretch/relax”) mode. A neutral spine position on the AB-I is assumed when the sensors are activated.

Electromyographic Analysis and Processing
All electromyographic (EMG) data were collected using an electrode configuration for use with pre- amplified bipolar, grounded, surface electrodes (Mega Electronics Ltd., MESPEC 4000 system amplifiers, Finland). Muscles were targeted bilaterally on the URA (2.5 cm above the umbilicus), LRA (2.5 cm below the umbilicus), EO (1.0 cm medial to the anterior superior iliac spine, 0.5 cm superior to the inguinal ligament) and lumbar paraspinal (PS) muscles using 10 mm bipolar, surface silver- silver chloride electrodes (1700 CLEARTRACETM, Conmed Corporation, Utica, NY). The electrodes were oriented parallel to the muscle fibers with an inter-electrode distance of approximately 40 mm. At each electrode site, the surface silver-silver chloride ground electrode was 10 mm in diameter. Prior to the application of the self-adhesive electrodes, the skin over each muscle was shaved with a disposable razor and cleansed with alcohol prep pads (70% Isopropyl Alcohol) to reduce impedance at the skin electrode interface. Surface electrodes were chosen as they are noninvasive and reliable for detecting surface muscle activity (i.e., given correct placement and protocol) (10,12,20). A certified Athletic Trainer performed manual muscle tests according to established methodology (9) to assure correct electrode placement for each muscle during a series of maximum isometric voluntary contractions (MIVCs). Consistent with previous research (16), manual muscle tests were performed to provide maximum amplitude of the linear envelope for each muscle response during each exercise. For each MVIC task, the maximum amplitude of the linear envelope for the target muscle was recorded as maximum EMG amplitude. The EMG amplitude of each muscle response during each exercise was expressed as a percentage of the maximum EMG amplitude for that muscle. The primary dependent variables were consequently the relative EMG amplitudes (%MVIC) of each muscle response during each exercise.
Pre-amplified EMG (gain =1000) cables were connected to electrodes at each muscle site and interfaced to the MESPEC 4000 system amplifiers (20 – 500 Hz (- 3dB)). EMG signals were recorded using an analog-to-digital converter (12 bit resolution) interfaced to a computer, with a sampling rate of 1000 Hz per channel. LabView® software (National Instruments Corp., Austin, TX) was used for data acquisition and data processing. EMG signals were full wave rectified, and a moving average smoothing algorithm (75 ms window) was used to generate a linear envelope for each muscle response during the MVIC tasks and for the three different exercises. For the MVIC tasks, raw EMG signals were partitioned into a 5-sec window of maximum activity prior to applying the rectifying and smoothing algorithms. For the exercises, raw EMG signals were aligned and averaged for 5 consecutive repetitions within each set of 8 repetitions prior to applying the rectifying and smoothing algorithms.

The protocol for this study was based upon previously published protocols for research of this nature (19). Following a consultation to complete the informed consent and medical health history questionnaire, participants underwent an initial familiarization session (during which time no study data was collected). During this initial meeting, participants were instructed on correct technique, demonstrated the appropriate technique for each exercise in the study, and were familiarized with the study protocol.
During the second meeting, participants were asked to perform 1 set of 8 repetitions for 3 exercises on the AB-I and MT. Each participant performed a traditional crunch, bilateral heel drops from a table top position, and a split leg scissor exercise on the AB-I and MT. The EMG activity for each given muscle was assessed for the consecutive exercises in each set, with adequate rest time allowed between sets to avoid fatigue. The testing order for both the exercises and the exercise condition was randomized. The exercises were conducted as follows:

Split Leg Scissor Exercise
Each participant began with both legs fully extended, while keeping the head still (i.e., “quiet”), parallel to the ceiling, and on the head sensor. Participants held on to the hand grips on the AB-I either side of the head. While keeping the core muscles braced (co-contracted) (“lights on, head quiet” with lumbar sensors closed) and the legs straight, participants lifted both legs off the floor and raised the dominant leg so the sole of the foot faced the ceiling, while maintaining the non-dominant leg approximately 10 inches off the ground. Participants then switched legs in a ‘scissor-like action’. A repetition consisted of one rotation with each leg in the raised position. For each repetition, the movement was conducted through the range of motion until lumbo-pelvic stability was lost (i.e., lights go off and/or buzzers sound). Once the prescribed set of repetitions for the non-dominant leg was completed, the exercise was repeated with the dominant leg. All movements were conducted in a slow, controlled manner. Correct posture and form were maintained throughout each exercise repetition. This exercise was also conducted over a 3-sec pace (1 sec up, 1 sec down, 1 sec pause).

Bilateral Heel Drops
Each participant began with the hips and knees flexed at 90° (90-90 hold position) with the back (upper and lower) flat on the ground. When completing the exercise on the MT, the upper arm and forearm were placed behind the head (fingers not interlocked). When completing the exercise on the AB-I, the participants held on to the hand grips on the AB-I located on either side of the head, and established the “lights on, head quiet” position. Participants then moved the heels of both feet slowly to touch the floor and then they were returned to the 90-90 position. When completing the exercise on the AB-I each participant held on to the hand grips on the AB-I located on either side of the head, and established the “lights on, head quiet” position. This position implied that the head was held still and remained on the sensors behind the head and upper back, thus keeping the sensory lights fully on.
This exercise was conducted over a 3-sec pace (1.5 sec per movement phase – 3 sec for the each repetition).

Traditional Crunch
Each participant began with the hips and knees flexed at 90° (90-90 hold position) with the back (upper and lower) flat on the ground (Figure 1a). When completing the exercise on the MT, the hands were placed behind the head (fingers not interlocked). When completing the exercise on the AB-I the participant was instructed to hold on to the hand grips on the AB-I located on either side of the head, and establish the “lights on, head quiet” position. This position indicates that the head was held still and remained firmly on the sensors behind the head and upper back, thus keeping the sensory lights fully on. Participants were asked to flex the trunk so that the head, shoulders, and scapulae were raised completely off the mat. This has been the approach used to conduct a traditional upper crunch in prior research (19).
All data for each individual participant were collected in a single session. As suggested by Sternlicht and Rugg (19), to promote “temporal consistency” (constant speed throughout each exercise phase), the participants were asked to complete each exercise through a full range of motion and to a metronome-paced cadence (1.5 sec per movement phase – 3 sec for the each repetition). Participants were instructed to use the same movement pattern for a given exercise in each exercise condition, but verbal cueing was also used to assure correct form throughout each set. If the AB-I sensors were not activated, or incorrect form or inadequate range of motion was shown on either the AB-I or MT-based exercises, the participant was asked to rest, re-set and resume the exercise set.

Statistical Analysis
Differences in the magnitude of muscle activation (%MVIC = dependent variable) for each muscle group analyzed in each of the 3 exercises on the AB-I and mat were evaluated using a two-way (exercise modality by exercise type) MANOVA (Wilks’ Lambda). Tukeys post-hoc tests were used to identify the location of significant differences. Multivariate homogeneity of variance and normality assumptions were satisfied. All statistical analyses were conducted using the Statistical Package for the PASW Statistics 17 software (SPSS Inc., Chicago, IL). Unless specified otherwise, P≤0.05 was used as an acceptable level of significance for all analyses.


Fifty-three college students (30 men, 23 women; 25 ± 4.7 yrs; 74.9± 13.3 kg; 172.7 ± 9.1 cm) completed the exercises. No pain was experienced byany of the participants that completed the study. Four participants wereexcluded during the study period for either failing to attend the laboratorymeeting or excessive subcutaneous adipose tissue, which prevented adequate EMGreadings. These participants were not included in the demographic data. Thetwo-way MANOVA generated a significant multivariate main effect for exercisemodality Significantly higher activation in the URA and LRA, andright-side EO muscles was observed when using in AB-I for all exercises (Figure2). However, significantly higher activation in the left-side external obliquemuscle was also observed when using the AB-I during the bilateral heel dropsand split-leg scissor exercises were calculated for the URA and LRA, suggesting theresults had clinical significance and that the exercises conducted with theAB-I actually generated greater activation of muscle potentials in the rectus abdominis muscles. 
*Tables insert here.  See full version at JEP online.


The purpose of this study was to determine if the AB-I would elicit different magnitudes of abdominal and low back muscle activation during 3 core exercises compared to the same exercises conducted on a conventional exercise mat. Abdominal exercises using the AB-I evoked greater EMG muscle activation compared than when conducted on an exercise mat. The magnitude of difference was significantly greater for the URA and LRA muscles and for the EO muscles on two of the three exercises.
Most abdominal exercise devices are designed to promote correct form without providing additional resistance. This reasoning has been used to explain why previous studies have shown minimal differences in EMG activation during exercises conducted on abdominal devices compared to traditional approaches (19). The AB-I is an abdominal training device that provides auditory and visual feedback regarding body position as well as compensatory actions such as an excessive activation of the sternocleidomastoid muscles. While exercises on the AB-I are not conducted with any additional resistance, maintaining pressure on the AB-I sensory pads and gripping the handles of the AB-I device may demand greater muscle activation of the trunk muscles than in their absence.
It is not surprising that the URA and LRA generated similar patterns of muscle activation. The rectus abdominis muscles are innervated by a group of thoracic nerves that are united by a common set of nerves stemming from the ventral rami, supporting the notion that activation levels would be similar. The lack of significance for the left EO muscle during the crunch is an unexpected finding, especially given the significantly greater EMG activation using the AB-I for the right and left EO muscles during the other two exercises. The argument that this difference may be the result of biomechanical differences in the execution of the crunch compared to the heel drops and split-leg scissor exercises, is somewhat muted by the disparity in statistical significance between the right and left EO muscles and the fact that such disparity was not noted for the other two exercises. A possible explanation for the difference in EMG activity detected within the EO muscles during the crunch exercise could be methodological error or an inability to stabilize effectively on a less familiar piece of apparatus. During the crunch exercise, participants were asked to complete a partial crunch while maintaining contact with the AB-I device by gripping the sides of the AB-I or by placing the hands behind the head when
using the MT (while the hips and knees were flexed 90°). This movement pattern requires trunk flexors to raise the upper torso (9), but does not allow for arm fixation to assist with rotational control as with the other two exercises. This may potentially elicit greater input from the EO muscles in maintaining side-to-side stability. The left EO muscles will tend to be the stronger trunk rotator compared to the right EO muscles in a right-handed individual. The lack of statistical difference in the left EO muscle during the crunch exercise might be partially explained given the movement pattern and the relative potential strength of the left side.
The low level of EMG activation and lack of difference between AB-I and MT readings in the PS may be explained by the sagittal plane in which each of the exercises was conducted and the predominant concentric and eccentric actions of the trunk and hip flexors in controlling each movement pattern. A different choice of exercise may have elicited significant differences in the EO muscles on both sides and in the PS muscle groups.
The results of this study partially agree with previous research. Similar to the CORE X device (16), the Abshaper (20), and the Perfect Abs device (19), the AB-I was able to facilitate greater EMG muscle activation in the rectus abdominis during comparable conventional exercises. However, the Perfect Abs and Torso Track devices did generate significantly greater EMG readings in the EO muscles during a crunch exercise compared to the same exercise on a mat (19). In the current study, the EMG activation of the EO muscles generated on the AB-I was significantly higher on the left side only. Significantly higher EMG activation of the right and left EO muscles was observed during the heel drops and scissor exercises on the AB-I. Few studies have compared EMG muscle activation on different modalities for exercises other than a traditional crunch, which limits the comparability of the findings for the heel drops and scissor exercises in the current study.
As with previous research using abdominal exercise devices (20), convenience sampling was used to recruit subjects. Competency using the AB-I was controlled (i.e., subjects were excluded if they had previously used the AB-I), as was the case with abdominal exercise habits (within study limitations), but variations in subjects’ body composition, gender, and abdominal muscle integrity (e.g., strength, stability) may have impacted patterns of muscle innervations and study findings. However, adequate rest time was allowed between sets of exercise to minimize fatigue, and the testing order for both the exercises and the exercise condition (AB-I vs MT) was randomized. These attributes should have minimized the influence of any differences in physical fitness and abdominal strength or endurance throughout the sample. Surface electrodes were used to measure EMG activation, which limits accessibility to the deep core musculature. For example, the transversus abdominis muscles play an important role in core stabilization.
The present study represents the first quantitative study of EMG muscle activation during exercises on an AB-I, a commercially available abdominal training device. Future research needs to examine the utility for using the AB-I in individuals of different ages and clinical populations, especially those with diminished proprioception and abdominal strength or integrity. The utility of the AB-I to generate the improvements observed within the limitations of this study may differ in other populations, such as individuals with orthopedic limitations or low back complaints. Undoubtedly, this requires further investigation. Future research should explore the utility of exercises on the AB-I to generate significant activation of the paraspinal muscles given the relationship between poor paraspinal muscle group strength and low back pain or disorder (5,6).

Training of the core musculature has become a fundamental component of exercise programs for athletic performance or rehabilitation over recent years. Identification of appropriate and efficient training tools for core muscle activation, adaptation, and strength development is consequently useful information for therapists and strength and conditioning professionals. In the current study, exercises conducted on the AB-I generated significantly greater activation in several regions of the core musculature, relative to the same exercises conducted on a standard exercise mat. The AB-I is a portable, adjustable, and easy to use device, which may further augment its potential utility as a tool for core training. However, further research is needed to fully evaluate its efficacy in wellness, clinical, rehabilitative, and athletic settings.

The authors would like to thank AB-Vanced Neu-Spine® Technologies, LLC, for donating exercise devices and to New York Chiropractic College for programming and donating the EMG equipment used for this study. The authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose. The results of the present study do not constitute endorsement of the product by the authors.
Address for correspondence: Sell KM, PhD, Department of Health Professions and Kinesiology, Hofstra University, Hempstead, NY, USA, 11549. Phone (516)463-5814; FAX: (516)463-6275; Email

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