the ELDOA Method
"What can be done for painful back pain after the therapeutic model has exhausted the drug arsenal of pain medications, anti-inflammatories, and physical therapy, to no avail?"
--Guy VOYER, DO
At the ripe old age of 20, the spine begins to lose its youthful elasticity. Dehydration, sitting at desks, stress, and the effects of gravity compress the spine causing pain, loss of function, and other serious medical conditions. And low back pain causes more lost days of productivity in the workplace than any other medical condition.
So what’s standing in the way of you and this inevitable decline? EXERCISE!! (I know, it’s like I just told you to eat your veggies)
What's standing in the way of this inevitable decline? Exercise!
(I know, it's like I just said to eat your veggies.)
But this is where it’s tricky. What kind of exercise? How much, when, and at what intensity do you need to exercise to keep your spine healthy? Without taking your unique body and past traumas into consideration, your well-intentioned trainer may be doing your spine more harm than good.
The FASCIA: It’s the buzz word.
A widely exploited and misunderstood buzz word, that is. Too many therapists and practitioners are handing out foam rollers with the vague idea that you can roll your fascia into submission. Fascia is a protective connective tissue “covering” that helps prevent friction, allowing different structures (like muscles and bones) to glide over each other in movement. It also plays a key role in immunity, and healthy fascia reflects healthy, supple tissues. While fascia isn’t a new term, researchers are only recently coming to terms with the fact that the whole body is intricately connected via fascia. You cannot isolate a single muscle (like your “glute”) or a single joint (like your knee) without activating fascia in the far reaches of the rest of your body. By attempting to isolate muscle groups in traditional exercise, performing those exercises poorly, and by straining your muscles to stretch without first warming up the fascia, you could be damaging this important network of tissue, which in a nutshell, keeps your muscle tissue from having the overall quality of a discount supermarket steak.
(These images show fascia at the cellular level.)
A HUGE leap in exercise science: ELDOA
To describe the ELDOA (it's a French acronym, but in English it means Longitudinal Osteoarticular Decoaptation Stretches) one needs a brief history of its founder Guy VOYER, DO. Dr. VOYER, famed French osteopath, medical doctor, physiotherapist and fascia researcher, developed a way to harness the power of the fascia as a means to improve the flexibility of the muscles and the mobility of the joints. In addition to being the world’s foremost expert on fascia, ELDOA is one of his key contributions.
The purpose of the ELDOA is to create space between each spinal segment for decompression of the disc and nerve. Unlike the concept of "mashing" the fascia with a roller or tennis ball, ELDOA seeks to create tension in the fascia (of the upper and lower limbs) to OPEN UP the joint space. Thus, there is a highly specific exercise for each spinal joint. To help one understand the goal of ELDOA, it is sometimes described as a “stretch”. But make no mistake, it’s going to take some serious work to achieve a stretch capable of affecting change in the fascia and joint. Students of the method are asked to contract their muscles with full intensity and maximum effort for one minute each exercise for the duration a 45 minute class. This is guaranteed to satisfy the most hard-core training buff. A group ELDOA class at Legacy Sport and Performance (Dallas, TX) is an is an all-out muscle-shaking grunt-fest.
Before you decide that this is definitely NOT the technique for you, let’s look at the benefits:
· Dramatic spike in energy, metabolism
· Relief from back pain, sciatica
· Prevention of injuries
· Global posture awareness and correction
· Increased flexibility in the whole body
· A complete, satisfying workout for the entire body
· Quickly builds muscle tone and strength
· Fortifies the nervous system, making you highly adaptable to stress
The study of ELDOA is open to physical trainers, therapists, and doctors, and due to its complexity, it generally attract individuals who are ready to dedicate a significant amount of time to its study. In Europe, where they are, frankly, pretty far ahead of us in the field of exercise, the professional who teaches the exercises is a regarded as a key ingredient in a patient’s recovery team. If you are going to hire a personal trainer, it's worth your while to seek out someone who can apply exercise science to your body in order to achieve a great result.
Joseph Pilates once said “Change happens through movement and movement heals”. Thanks to the contributions of another visionary, Guy VOYER, DO, we now have a better shot at pinpointing the right movement, with the right force, in the right location.
Where can I go to experience the ELDOA?
Purely Pilates Center in Southlake, Texas holds group classes and private training.
If you are lucky enough to live in the DFW area, the U.S. school for Dr. VOYER’s work led by Scott Herrera is available to the public. Visit this beautiful facility for a private treatment and group classes. http://legacyperformwell.com/
For a list of practitioners worldwide: www.somafinder.com
About Guy VOYER, DO http://www.guyvoyer.com/eng/accueil_e.html
About the author: Stephanie Evans, Certified ELDOA 1, 2, and 3 Practitioner, Certified Pilates Instructor, offers private sessions incorporating Pilates, ELDOA exercises and Myofascial Stretch at Purely Pilates Center in Southlake, TX.