I have visited Alex Guerrero.
He made me jump on one foot, gave me a bruise that looked like I got hit with a 90 MPH fastball, told me to drink 100 ounces of water a day, stand on one foot and do squats with my big nose one centimeter from the wall.
Within two weeks, the hip flexor pain I’d gone to see him for -- a pain that started out front ended out back and was causing me to limp -- was pretty much gone.
I was now up to taking 33 leaks a day. But I also didn’t feel creaking when I turned my head to check for oncoming traffic. I returned to playing as much erratic basketball, inconsistent golf and deteriorating softball as I wished. I no longer had the “Oooh, my hip!” excuse at my disposal anymore.
Two of my three sons have gone to Guerrero in the past year for treatment of sports injuries. The third -- who snapped his arm skateboarding and has a plate in there now -- will be going to Guerrero when he gets back from college so he can rebuild strength and mobility.
When I saw Guerrero, I didn’t know he was forced to give his car to the FTC in 2004 as punishment for being involved in peddling “Supreme Greens.”
Thanks to a well-reported Boston Magazine story, I do now. I also now know Guerrero allowed himself to be passed off as a doctor in a testimonial video for Supreme Greens. That stupefying claims were made about what it could do for terminally ill patients were made. That Guerrero received a “slim portion” (as author Chris Sweeney described it) of the $16 million in earnings Supreme Greens realized. And that Guerrero -- even though he should have been chastened about getting into lofty claims about products without proven testing -- did it again with some concussion-protection water called Neurosafe in 2011. When the FTC came knocking, Guerrero discontinued selling Neurosafe and provided refunds for all who purchased the limited amount that was sold.
Guerrero’s involvement puts some taint on his resume, to say the least. Quack. Snake oil salesmen. Fraud. All terms used to describe Guerrero since the article dropped.
Monday morning, Guerrero’s business partner and friend, Tom Brady, came to Guerrero’s defense on WEEI. Brady passionately defended the training regimen Guerrero’s developed and he sermonized about his embrace of “Eastern” medical practices. Brady unflinchingly stated he believed Neurosafe had benefits.
As often happens when someone starts talking passionately about closely-held personal beliefs that are met with skepticism, Brady sounded a little strident. Nobody preaches as hard as the converted.
Brady and Guerrero can believe what they want to believe when it comes to supplements and dietary aids. They can promote the hell out of them. It’s specific claims of results that have not been proven that are dangerous, especially if those claims lead someone to forego conventional treatment or use prescribed caution.
But there’s something much bigger at issue here than my hip, Guerrero’s confiscated car and refunded orders of Neurosafe. It’s Brady’s reputation.
Playing as well this season at the age of 38 as he’s ever played, the simple question, “How does Brady keep doing it?” easily morphs into an insinuation: “Yeah, how DOES he do it?”
Is it just resistance bands, hydration, anti-gravity treadmills, flexibility training, supplements and clean-living that are helping Brady excel when he is elderly by NFL standards? Just how is he cheating Father Time?
I asked Guerrero if he wanted to respond to the Boston Magazine article. He said he’s accustomed to being a target because his practices are unconventional and that his commenting wouldn’t serve a purpose. He indicated there was more to the Supreme Greens story than was reflected in the article but wouldn’t go into detail. I left open the invitation to talk in the future.
The Guerrero I’ve come to know is not some sinister figure working in the shadows with a bunch of test tubes and beakers around him. He’s a physical therapist/massage guy who -- and I admittedly don’t have a massive amount of experience -- is really good at fixing stuff that hurts and preventing stuff from needing fixing.
Hydration is at the core of what Guerrero preaches. Brady got turned on to Guerrero by Willie McGinest more than a decade ago, but Guerrero and McGinest are still close. At McGinest’s Patriots Hall of Fame induction in August, he gave a shoutout to Guerrero and asked all the other former Patriots in attendance to toast Guerrero from their seats. With their bottled water. Almost all of them had one to hoist.
Along with hydration, Guerrero stresses the need for elongating muscles and making them more pliable. Strength training is done with resistance bands. Free weights cause joint distress on the transfer and imbalances in form can lead to asymmetrical development. Plus, Guerrero asks, why would any athlete want to cause his muscles to constrict and swell when that kind of mass only leads to pulls. Rocked-up athletes who walk with choppy steps and move robotically look good in the mirror. They are also excellent candidates for muscle tears and the injury list. Muscle symmetry too. You can’t be walking all out of whack.
And core, core, core, core, core.
When I went to see Guerrero, he put me on a treadmill that measured my stride length with each leg, the pressure with which I pushed off of each foot and the length of time each foot spent on the ground during a stride. He had me watch the monitor until I got my left and right steps synced up. Swagger. Gone.
After the treadmill, Guerrero laid me on a table and attacked my hip flexor with a massage so deep I was on the verge of tears and laughter. He broke up the scar tissue. Then he made me sit on the edge of the massage table and kick my leg as fast as I could. He was “reprogramming the muscle.”
The next day, the bruise appeared and it hung around a week or so. Immediately, the area felt freed up and the pain started to subside.
When I went to see Guerrero, I didn’t go through Brady. I walked in and made my appointment at TB12 Sports Therapy at Patriot Place and paid my money ($200 for the first visit, $100 for each subsequent visit).
I’ve paid $100 for each of the three visits my kids have been on. I buy the whey protein and electrolytes once a month (though I’m not sure $15 for a squirt bottle of electrolytes is the wisest investment).
I’m an aging and average 47-year-old recreational athlete. I don’t run or swim. I lift a little, do wall squats, planks, use resistance bands, jump rope and drink gallons of water. All so I can play stuff four or five times a week. Doing a limited amount of what Guerrero advised helps me do stuff at close to the same level I could 10 or 15 years ago. I think.
I don’t pull stuff, I don’t get absurdly sore and I’m more flexible than I probably should be.
I don’t think Guerrero’s a quack. I don’t think he or Brady are out to dupe the masses to make a buck.
I think they believe passionately in some unconventional training methods that -- speaking from my experience –- have great benefit. They want them to be accessible to normal people, not simply professional athletes.
If they save the lofty claims and stay out of the FTC’s face, they’ll probably be able to do that.
But this uncovered information has not been a positive business development.