Podcast from: https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/2017/03/what-is-eldoa/
[0:00] Introduction/Vaxxen Labs
[5:55] Jacob Schoen
[9:50] Jacob’s Educational Background
[12:59] The ELDOA Method
[18:54] Creating Space Within A Joint
[32:16] How The ELDOA Session Goes
[34:57] Quick Commercial Break/Kimera Koffee
[36:22] Four Sigmatic
[41:23] Normalizing Muscle Tone
[46:43] ELDOA For The Jaw
[54:53] Deep Tissue Work Before an ELDOA Session
[1:13:17] Holding The ELDOA Stretches and Frequency
[1:17:37] How People Can Learn To Do ELDOA
[1:21:42] End of Podcast
Ben: (singing) Hello. Can you hear me? I am Backstreet Boy.
What’s up? Ben Greenfield here. That was me doing my Backstreet Boy impersonation. This podcast though is not about the Backstreet Boys. It’s about a little known highly effective hack to heal your spine, and to get some really massive mobility improvements, and really change the way you move for-freakin’-ever. It’s a really really good show. You’re going to love this dude that I have on. He’s super smart. Jacob Schoen. We’re taking about this stuff called ELDOA, E-L-D-O-A. Now before I go chat with him, I want to tell you about Vaxxen. Vaxxen sounds like the name of a sexy reindeer. V-A-X-X-E-N, V-A-Double X-E-N. They’re one of only seven companies in the US that actually has the license to sell pro-anabolics. Basically stuff that makes you get swole, baby. Vaxxen Labs actually sells like lean agents and also mass anabolic agents. We’re talking about fringe stuff like 1-DHEA and 19-Nor-DHEA. These things are like six times more anabolic than testosterone, than on-cycle and post-cycle support, protein, fat burners. They’re backed by scientific research and they use what’s called liposomal delivery. That means that they are made with these liposomes that encapsulate any compound and they protect it, but they also make sure your body actually absorbs it. So you get really fast results and you don’t poop out any of your capsules. You instead absorb it. Absorb it? For phenomenal cosmic power. You get 10% off any of the line of supplements from this brand new company, Vaxxen Labs. How? I’m glad you asked. Go to bengreenfieldfitness.com/vaxxen. That’s bengreenfieldfitness.com/VAXXEN, or as I’ve always wanted to say, V-A-Double X-E-N, and use code BenG10, BenG10. If you order by March 31st, you get a free t-shirt baby. So they’re throwing that in too. BenG10, 10% off, bengreenfieldfitness.com/vaxxen.
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In this episode of The Ben Greenfield Fitness Show:
“Well, what’s interesting is that the fascia of the tendon is in complete continuity with the fascia of the bone. And so there really is no stop and start point for the fascia in the body. It is, if you will, like a circle.” “And you have to realize that whenever you foam roll, you not only foam roll the fascia, but you foam roll the muscle, the associated vessel, the nerve. And a lot of times, if you are not trying to create adhesion, it doesn’t really make sense to me to compress a whole lot of things. It makes more sense to try to create a sliding between the two layers. But to create a sliding between the two layers, we need to make sure that we know the anatomy of the layers that we are attempting to go after.”
Ben: Hey, folks. It’s Ben Greenfield, and four months ago, this guy knocked on my front door and he’d flown all the way up from down south, from Alabama, to my house to train me. And he was there to train me, he showed up at my door to train me in this method of movement and really, really deep, what’s called fascial, or myofascial stretching that I’d never encountered before. It was called the ELDOA Method, E-L-D-O-A. Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve done my fair share of mobility training. Like in my article, I wrote about the five essential elements of a training program that most athletes neglect. I delve in really great detail in that article how, on a weekly basis, I’ll do everything from active stretching, to yoga, to foam rolling, to traction, to deep tissue work, and beyond, but Jacob Schoen, who’s the guy who showed up at my house and my guest on today’s podcast, and when he showed up, he trained me for eight solid hours over the course of a weekend.
He introduced me to this new form of really intensive, I guess you would call it stretching, he might have a better term for it that we’ll get into in today’s show, and he helped me discover something that I now take breaks from work each day to do during the day. It’s one of the best ways to decompress the spine, to heal the spine if it’s injured, to get rid of low back pain, and to get, not just a back, but a full body myofascial stretch. Now I had somebody to take photos when he was over at my house, and if you want to see what this looks like, I’m going to put a link to those photos as well as everything else that Jacob and I talk about in the show notes. And the show notes are going to be at bengreenfieldfitness.com/eldoa. That’s E-L-D-O-A. bengreenfieldfitness.com/eldoa.
Now Jacob, himself, is the owner and the founder of Shift Sport and Wellness, and he’s based out in New Orleans. He’s studied the programs of this guy named Dr. Guy Voyer, who I’m sure he will tell us about during today’s show, and works with a bunch of people to help with their pain, to help with their performance. I know he himself used to do a lot of like a professional level, or close-to-professional level cycling, and triathlon, and kind of gotten into ELDOA along the way, and this is super interesting stuff. If you’re listening in and you want a new form of movement that you can use almost like a sniper rifle to get rid of pain in specific body parts, or to improve your movement, new mobility overall, this is a must listen for you. So Jacob, welcome to the show, man.
Jacob: Hey, man. How’s it going? It’s actually pretty surreal for me to hear that intro just because about a couple years ago, when I was like 16 or 17, I started listening to you talk when I was doing triathlon, and cycling, and stuff. And to hear that intro, and now I’m talking to you is a pretty cool feeling. So glad to be here, man.
Ben: Well, I wouldn’t have you on the show if you weren’t such a frickin’ wealth of knowledge. I mean even when you were over at my house training, you were telling me things about the fascia that I’m sure we’ll get into today, and disc hydration, and facet joint decompression, and mobilization of muscle tone, concepts that I really hadn’t seen anyone delve into in quite as much detail as you. So you’re a smart cookie, dude. Even though you’re, what, 9 years old, 10 years old.
Jacob: Yeah. My 11th birthday is in a couple weeks. So I’ll be moving into sixth grade soon.
Ben: But you actually, in all seriousness, you’re still in your early 20’s, right?
Jacob: Yeah. 24 at the moment. I turn 25 in August. So I’m still at the very beginning, but it’s all coming in waves and I’m just diving straight into it as much as I can at the moment, trying to learn as much as possible.
Ben: Tell me about your education.
Jacob: Yeah. So I have to give a shout out to my high school, New Orleans Jesuit High School. So that’s kind of where I started. And then from there, I graduated and went to LSU. And my mom is actually a personal trainer. So from the time I was seven or eight, instead of going home after school, I would go to the gym and do my homework, and then go off to soccer practice or whatever sport I was doing at the time. And so I was always around people who were, even if the methods were a little weird, who are always thinking in a new kind of way, like “how can I perform better”, “what can I do”. And actually, kind of funny thing, I remember from an early age, I think I was kind of thinking outside of the box, I was a pitcher in baseball. And instead of thinking about how I could use my arm to throw the ball harder, I was like, “So I push off with my legs.” Some I’m just going to do as many calf raises as I can to maybe push off a little bit harder. And so from that time, I’ve always been kind of thinking outside the box a little bit. And then after graduating kinesiology in LSU, I had an internship in my last semester there. And with these guys, Brendan Julian and Chris Namely, I was able to kind of change the way I thought about the body.
So my background previously, I was really concerned with the muscle, and really concerned with hypertrophy, and really concerned with all these things, and then I started to get exposed to the methods where it’s like, “Okay, those are cool and those are important for a little bit, but it’s really about how you move, and how you think about your body, and how you handle your nutrition, and handle your movement,” things like that, that got me to kind of see the body in a different way. And from then, you just kind of go down the rabbit hole where you can start studying the different movements of the bones in the skull, and I was like, “Man, I don’t think even those move.” And then I find out they do, and so I’m like, “Ah, my brain is exploding!” And then I find out about the ELDOA. So they had me do one of the postures, T8/T9, one day, and I lifted weights, and I had done triathlons, and things like that, so I was pretty used to suffering, if you will. And it was like the hardest thing I had ever done. I’m pushing with my head, and I’m reaching as hard as I can with my arms, and I feel like my hip flexors are going to explode, and I feel like my spine is trying to be pulled apart in every direction. And from there, I was…
Ben: Exactly what you put me through.
Jacob: Yeah, exactly. Yeah. Exactly. I wasn’t quite as nice to you as they were. But yeah, same exact thing. Then I found out about the education that is offered to learn that kind of stuff ’cause I was like, “Man, this is incredible.” Like it was very challenging during the posture, but I felt amazing after. And so I wanted to learn about it, and then I went to Dallas and took the first ELDOA 1 back in 2015 after I graduated. And then since then, I’ve been in the programs that Dr. Guy Voyer, who invented the ELDOA method or developed it, and it’s just been a whirlwind since then, trying to accumulate as much knowledge as I can so that I can help as many people as possible.
Ben: Now you called him Dr. Guy Voyer. (with French accent) I think me and my red-blooded American red neckedness called him Guy Voyer. But Guy Voyer (French accent) sounds much more sophisticated. This is the guy who originally developed the technique?
Jacob: Yeah. So Dr. Guy Voyer, I’ve been practicing my French accent. He’s from France originally. So he did develop the technique. He was originally a trainer and a high level athlete in judo, and then from there became a doctor and a physical therapist, and eventually an osteopath. And we can talk a little bit about the osteopathic kind of philosophy later if you like, but from then what he started to see is that even back whenever he was practicing, and still now especially, you have this enormous epidemic of back pain. I mean there isn’t anyone within 30 feet of you at any time that doesn’t have some kind of back pain it seems like now. And so what he thought is that he wants to take it from the source and give the power essentially back to the patient. Because at the time, your options were surgery or medication. And so to give the power back to the patient, he said, “Okay, let’s develop an exercise to go after the root problem of back pain.” And so whatever that may be for the particular person, we can develop an exercise to target that. And if you go after the root cause of the problem, you can get rid of the problem. It’s only when you do that that the symptoms will eventually go away. And so he developed that, and then from there, he had his entire training program to kind of make the trainer more well-rounded. And from there, you can kind of go anywhere with it.
Ben: So what does E-L-D-O-A actually stand for?
Jacob: Yeah. So E-L-D-O-A is a French acronym. I can’t pronounce the French one, I can give it a shot. But translated into English, it’s LOADS. So L-O-A-D-S.
Jacob: And that stands for longitudinal osteoarticular decoaptation stretches. And that is a really complex way…
Jacob: Decoaptation. Yeah. In that you use your entire body to create a decompression at a specific joint. So longitudinal, you can think from head to toe, or from finger to toe. You can say osteoarticula, which is a fancy way of saying joint. So you have bone, osteo, and articular, where they interact with each other. That’s a fancy way of saying joint. And then decoaptation is a term that you can use and you kind of think about it as a decompression, a depressurization, or a creation of space at a particular joint, and then you do it in a stretch.
Ben: Gotcha. So like when I go out to my garage and I’m hanging from the inversion table in my garage, that’s like a form of traction. But when you trained me, that decoaptation that I was doing, I’m essentially doing like self-traction to my own joints right? It’s like taking an inversion table to every single joint of your body and you’re doing it using just your own body as a weapon rather than using some apparatus?
Jacob: Yeah, exactly. Exactly. That’s a really good point. Whenever you want to, so like for me, example, I work with people who have back pain. And so it’s a lot easier for me to teach them an exercise than to suggest them to go out and get a traction table. I don’t really, I’m not a huge fan of the traction tables, to be honest. Because whenever you want to create space, for example let’s say L4-L5, you need to do very specific things to make sure that you’re not creating space at the tibiotalar joint, or at the hip, or at the knee, or at the, wherever. If you want to create space at L4-L5, you need a very specific posture for that exercise.
Ben: Yeah. That’s a good point too because, although I swear by the inversion table for things like blood flow to the head, and capillarization, and a little cup of coffee for the brain sometimes where you need to just go out and hang, you’re right. If you just stretch everything apart all at once versus targeting it in a more specific and strategic manner, in some cases you can make problems even worse. Like I know in many cases when people hang from a compression table, certain muscles will go into a state of spasm. And you come out of the compression table, in some cases your low back hurts more than it did before.
Jacob: Yeah, absolutely. Whenever someone has a problem, you can kind of think about it as an accumulation of stresses. And what’s going to pay for each particular person, when I say pay, it’s like what’s going to give you pain, it depends on your weak link. So if you have a history of, let’s say you were a football player and you were the quarterback, maybe whenever you get stretched, your shoulder hurts, or something ridiculous like that. So you never really know where the stress is going to go until you apply intelligent exercise. Whenever you apply intelligent exercise, based on anatomy and biomechanics, and based on things that we know about the structure of the fascia and how the body works, only then can you really be sure, especially with good training technique, that you get the result that you want. Otherwise, you’re kind of just shooting in the dark. And if you have pain and if you’ve ever like serious, serious back pain, you don’t want to shoot in the dark for very long ’cause it can be very, very debilitating and very tough on the rest of your life. Social interaction, work, things like that. Because all you think about is pain. So you just don’t want to waste time, truly.
Ben: Okay. Got it. So this guy, Guy Voyer, an osteopathic physician, he developed this technique. In English, it’s longitudinal osteoarticular decoaptation, that’s my new impressive phrase I’m going to be using this weekend to impress people.
Jacob: Yeah. You can drop that at a dinner party.
Ben: All the dinner parties and cocktail parties I go to all the time on the weekends, let me tell you.
Jacob: I have it tattooed on my butt, actually.
Ben: When you came to my house and you showed me these moves, you described it to me as me creating space within my joints. So like decompressing whichever joint that I chose for the specific exercises, or series of exercises that you showed me to create space. Can you walk me through though what you mean when you say “create space within a joint”?
Jacob: Yeah. Absolutely. So the way I kind of want the people that are listening to this to think about the body is not in a very Newtonian way. So oftentimes we think about, we see a skeleton and we say, “Okay, the head is stacked on top of the neck, and neck on top of the shoulders, the shoulders on top of this,” when in reality it’s all connected but none of it is stacked in that way. For example, if you were to cut horizontally through someone’s body, kind of like a hacksaw through the level of L2-L3, there’s no bone there. So what is allowing you to kind of stand is this tension that you have in your fascial structure, I would really love to delve into the fascia later, which I’m sure we will. But to create space at a particular joint, what you need to do is you need to create a mobile point and a fixed point. So essentially you can just put your hand on top of the table right there and put your other hand on top. To create space between your two hands, you need to keep one hand on the table and lift the other hand off of it. So essentially that’s what we’re trying to do with the particular bones in your back, whether it be T67, T8/T9, L5/S1, whatever joint you choose based on the anatomy of the exercise. Each joint in the back is pressurized. And so what I mean by that is it functions under what we know as Pascal’s Law. So any pressure applied to a closed cylinder is distributed equally around the periphery of that entire cylinder. So if I step on a soccer ball, the pressure isn’t just directly below my foot but around the entire perimeter of that soccer ball. That make sense?
Ben: Yup, yup. Okay. Got it.
Jacob: Cool. So it exists under that pre-loaded or pre-tension state. The disc is also fascia. So it’s highly highly composed of water. So whenever you want to create space at a particular joint, maybe you’d been sitting at a desk too long or maybe you had a trauma where you literally just compressed that particular joint and shot out all the water, you created too much pressure inside the joints so that the water exploded out the sides, if you will…
Ben: And that’s what’s going on when you injure your back. In most cases, that disc is getting compressed and you’re squirting out that water.
Jacob: Yeah, yeah. For the imagery for the people listening, you can think about it that way. But in reality what’s really happening is that the micro kind of chemical composition of the disc is changing from electro positive to electro negative, which allows the bound water which is attached to all different types of chemicals inside the disc becomes free and then it’s allowed to leave the disc. So what happens is it literally loses its component of hydration. So it goes from, let’s say 80% water to 79, to 76. And over time, you literally lose the height of your disk. And so what we want to do is not only bring water back into the tissue just to make it more hydrated, and more pliable, and healthier, and have better quality, but also to give more space between the two bones. Because whenever you do that, you actually have room for the nerve, room for the vessel, room for rotation because it’s impossible to move if you have two bones grinding on each other. And you also create osteoarthritis that way. And then whenever you have space, the nerve is no longer compressed. And so a lot of people experience that pain. So if you can get one fraction of one millimeter of space, then a lot of times the pain goes away.
Ben: That’s interesting. So you don’t need much. We’re talking about millimeters in terms of the actual lengths here.
Jacob: Oh, yeah. Absolutely. Absolutely. I mean it is a lot of times micro, micro movements. But that very often can take you from 8 out of 10, oh-my-gosh-cut-my-arm-off kind of pain, to “Man, I feel okay,” because the nerve is no longer being stimulated. So whenever you create that negative pressure inside the disc, you bring in the water and you change the micro environment of the disc itself.
Ben: So when you do like an ELDOA move for, let’s say, well some of the ones, and a link to ones, I’m a big fan of the 80/20, Jacob. And I know as much as you might grit your teeth about the fact that we spent like eight hours training and I took three, out of I think, probably the 25 moves that you showed to me, three that I actually use all the time, it’s T6/T7, T8/T9, and L5/S1. Those are specific, I believe the vernacular is you refer to those as the ELDOAs for those specific joints. In this case, those specific vertebra. So what I’m what I’m doing when I do these specific moves that you taught me to target those joints is I’m putting tension above and below the joint that’s pulling apart the joint, and decompressing it, and allowing fluid to return to the joint?
Jacob: Exactly. Exactly. As far as the 80/20, man, you have no any idea how many times I’ve written in my diary about how much that just frustrates me. Just kidding. But, yeah. Absolutely. And that’s awesome because a lot of times when I work with my clients, they do the wellness classes that I do where it’s like a group exercise class. But for their particular home program, they might have one ELDOA where it’s just L5/S1. Because if they have, let’s say they’re a busy executive, or they’re a mom with kids, or whatever, if they have five minutes, I want to make that five minutes as productive and specific to their particular needs as possible. Which is why the ELDOA’s so great because I can go after whatever joint I choose. But, yeah. So whenever we speak about an ELDOA, we talk about it in relation to the joint that it’s going to create space, or that is the target joint, if you will. So if you’re working on L5/S1, it’s the last lumbar vertebra and the first sacral vertebra. And so you create space at that disc. You change the disc environment, you change the muscle tone, you effect the ligaments and the tendons, the nerves, the vessels, the autonomic nervous system with the chain ganglia on the front of the spine, the fascia. I mean all is affected whenever do the exercise. Especially properly.
Ben: Now we’ve thrown around the term fascia a few times, and you even said that part of that disc is actually a part of, and correct me if I’m wrong here or if I understood you incorrectly, but your disc is actually part of your entire fascial system that travels from your big toe all the way up to the top of your head. Now can you explain how the ELDOA system is related to myofascial, like the link between ELDOA and myofascia. Because I think this is really important and relevant to the fact that when I do it, it’s not just hitting my back. Like I literally feel like two inches taller after I finish a 60 second move. So how is this working? What is the myofascia and how is it working with the myofascia?
Jacob: Yeah. That’s a really, really good question. I’m going to spend a minute and just talk about how kind of the fascia relates from head to toe, if that’s okay. So you have your superficial layer of skin, your epidermis. And then from the epidermis, down, down, down towards the bone, you have specific connections of the fibular network of the fascia. So all the way from your skin down to the cortical bone, you have fascia. You have this layer of fascia that’s in the hypodermis called the superficial fascia, which is the kind of most, if you can think about it, outer covering of the orthopedic system. And it goes from your fingertips and covers your entire body, except for your face, and that’s a different one called the galea aponeurotica if you want the technical version. But that superficial fascia is brought into tension and it is in connection with the deeper fascia of the body which is the aponeurosis of the muscle. So whenever we think about a muscle in the classic model, we think about this piece of meat, which it is. So you see it in a textbook, which is you have this dense collagen piece of tendon that connects to the bone, and then you go a little bit further and then you have this abrupt line where it’s just this red piece of meat with the actin and myosin and things like that. And then further down the line, you have the end of the tendon, and then cool, and then you have a whole new muscle, and the process repeats itself.
But in reality what it is is that the superficial fascia connects to the deep fascia of the muscle, and the muscle is covered in the epimecium. And then inside the muscle you have the endomecium and the perimecium, and those are all fascias. And that fascia is in continuity with the fascia of the tendon. Well what’s interesting is that the fascia of the tendon is in complete continuity with the fascia of the bone. And so there really is no stop and start point for the fascia in the body. It is, if you will, like a circle in a kind of weird way. Like I imagine that guy from the History Channel with the crazy hair saying it’s all connected. It really is. And so that fascia is what allows us to stand, and move, and do the amazing things that we do as humans because we have a very, very unique relationship with the greatest force on Earth, which is gravity. Gravity is always, always acting on us and we need to develop an orthopedic system that allows us to move in relation to that amazing, amazing force. And so what we do is we take that fascia and we respect the connections, we respect the direction of the fascia, we respect the anatomy, and we respect the biomechanics of how the body moves. And what we do is we bring those fascial lines into tension.
So what you can imagine is a really long chain, if you will, and you can picture that as kind of your body. And if you want to imagine the segment at L5/S1 as a link in that chain, if you want to talk to specifically that link, what you need to do is you need to make sure that all the links before and all the links after are quiet and not talking so that you can speak specifically to that link. It’s kind of like trying to have a conversation in a loud bar. Everybody else needs to shut up so that you can talk to your friend. So what happens is is you do that and you’re able to communicate with that particular link by bringing those things before and after into tension. So if they’re all floppy and flacid, and like jelly, then it doesn’t really work because they can still move, they can still communicate, and it’s not moving as a unit. Whenever you get it to move as a unit, you can take the rest of the joints, the bones in the foot, the knee, the hip out of the equation so that you can work particularly on the sacrum in L5/S1. And you do that above and below the joint. So you do it with your whole spine, you do it with your arms, and your shoulder blades, and your rib cage, and you also do it from the big toe all the way down to your pelvis for that particular posture. And then it changes as you move up or down the spine, or for the ribs and things like that.
Ben: Got it. So when I’m doing like an ELDOA stretch and you’re having me like put my wrist into hyperextension, but then also take, for example, like my toes and flex those, or actually extend those as much as possible, what you’re saying is that there is myofascia in my big toe that’s actually getting tugged on as I am extending my wrist. And from my toe to my wrist, by that myofascia being pulled in both directions, that’s actually, depending on what position the rest of my body is, decompressing, say, the shoulder, or a rib, or one of the vertebra in the spine?
Jacob: Absolutely, man. You got it. So that fascia that goes from your finger continues along your palm and goes into your forearm. Well it doesn’t just stop your forearm, there’s not like a border patrol there. So goes into your bicep and into your chest, or depending on the direction, onto your shoulder blade, on to your lat. Well that continues down onto your pelvis. Well, it doesn’t just stop at your pelvis. There’s no border control there. Well that continues on to the fascia of your glute or to your sacrum. The fascia of your glute goes on to the fascia of your thigh, the thigh of the lower leg, the leg to the foot, the foot to the big toe. And so it becomes very easy in our way of thinking to say that it’s all separate because to initially learn anatomy in our basic biology classes or anatomy class even in college, we have to distinguish, for example, the biceps femoris from the semimembranosus, or the lower abs, or excuse me, the rectus abdominis from the internal, external oblique, or whatever it is. That makes it easier to take the test. But in reality, if you take 20 steps back from the table of the cadaver if you’re doing a dissection, it all looks like the same muscle. Everything is covered in that same fascia and is responsible for the movement of your whole person ’cause you don’t move like a robot. It’s not like a (makes robot noise) kind of movement. It’s a very fluid and gradual movement. Another way of thinking about it is if you want to push someone away from you, you don’t just push with your arm. You have to first have support on the ground. Well now your feet come into play. And so your feet are influencing how you use your hands, and that’s kind of way you can think about it when it comes to movement that is in the ELDOA.
Ben: Okay. Got it. So when you came to my house, we obviously didn’t just like hit the floor, and you had me extend my little pinkie, and then my big toe, and stretched my fascia. There was a whole bunch, I mean like each session took us like an hour and a half or two hours. Can you walk me through like what a sample ELDOA session actually looks like. ‘Cause I assume there’s some kind of method to the madness here and you aren’t just making me hop around my living room to sit back and laugh at me as you drank my coffee.
Jacob: Only 20% of it was to laugh at you. The rest was for the good work. That’s the whole 80/20 thing, right?
Ben: Every good teacher knows.
Jacob: That’s right. So the way out organized the sessions was to try to give you a feel for the way the program the, soma training program, which is the program being developed by Dr. Voyer for his trainers to kind of give you a feeling of what all of the tools in the tool bag, and how I use them, and what their purpose is. And the way I can kind of explain that is if you want to do the ELDOA correctly, you need a lot of awareness right. So the kind of tagline for my business Shift is “move more aware”. ‘Cause a lot of times, you see people go into the gym, they do their exercises, they don’t really think about it, and they don’t get the result. Or they’re doing the wrong ones, and I want people to understand that you need to move with a certain type of intelligence and certain type of awareness. So the way that we organize the sessions was if I want to stretch some muscle or stretch a piece of fascia, then you need to know the muscles that that fascia is associated with. Well if you want to bring tension into those muscles, then you need to have a muscle first. So the way that that process goes is we strengthen the muscle with very very specific segmental strengthening. So a lot of the moves for the delts and the glutes that I had to do were very specific to fibers of the glue medius, for example. Whether it be the deep or the superficial. And so then once you understood and your body could recognize where the glute medius was, now I could stretch it. And then once I can stretch it, I can integrate that into doing the process of the ELDOA.
So if for example if you have someone who, I mean you did an absolutely amazing job truthfully, but if you have someone who maybe hasn’t done any activity in a couple years, or maybe played sports a long time ago and as a different level, they all need different types of training, different types of organization for the program to make sure they can get the best result for the ELDOA. So if you just look at a picture of the ELDOA, you have truthfully no clue what’s going on. You say, “Okay, my legs are here, my hand is here. Cool.” But in reality, there’s a lot a lot of stuff that’s going on and I feel like you experience that whenever I was training you because I was circling you like a hawk. But my goal for that is to make sure that if it’s your first time doing the exercises, that your head is in the right position. Whenever you’re thinking about your head, unless you have a practiced awareness, you’re not thinking about your wrist and about your foot. So I need to remind you about those two. So it’s constantly head here, touch here, push here, do all these kind of things so that I can bring awareness to your movement.
Ben: Okay. Got it.
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Ben: So when we were doing like a session for my pelvis, to do the ELDOA movements for my pelvis, obviously that’s an extremely complex system of joints and women are using it during childbirth, and people are using when they’re freakin’ like riding a bicycle, which a lot of people don’t think about. But that’s when I used to get the most back pain for me was like riding a bicycle ’cause my sacrum’s just like having to shift constantly with something like that to walking, to standing, et cetera. The reason that you start off by working the specific muscles around the pelvis is to bring awareness to that joint. So you don’t just go directly into an ELDOA stretch in a perfect scenario, although admittedly I have been just like taking breaks from work to just get straight into stretches. But like in a full-on proper ELDOA workout, so to speak, you’re actually saying, “Okay. I’m going to do the ELDOA moves from my pelvis. I’m going to start with like pre-working my glutes, my adductors, all the muscles around my pelvis, external rotators, internal rotators, et cetera, and then I finish up with all these intense, intense stretches that hit all the myofascia and the joints of the pelvis.
Jacob: Yeah. Pretty much. In a perfect world those of us, and I think your listener ship is a large proportion of these kind of people, we would have all of day to do our exercises. I mean we wouldn’t have to work, we could just go outside and run, and then we could lift weights, and then we could stretch, and we could massage, and then we could do all the amazing things, and we could just you know be free to do whatever we wanted all day. Well, that’s not the reality. So the session that I had with you, I was like, “Okay. So I have an hour and a half, I have two hours,” and we really tried to organize the best possible session I can do for each of the kind of local parts. So we worked on the pelvis and the lumbar spine, we worked on the mid back and the shoulders, and we also worked on the rib cage, and the neck, and things like that. So [0:39:40] ______ organized to try to give you the best possible result for the ELDOA at the very end. So we always did it at the very end. And the reason is because the ELDOA takes a lot, a lot, a lot of practice, and a lot of awareness, and a lot of ability, at least in my opinion, to do really correctly. And if I have someone like yourself who’s just seeing it for the very first time when I’m trying to drop the whole tool box on the at once, I want to make sure that you get the best possible result from the ELDOA at the end that you can.
And what that means is that means bringing awareness to the muscles, bringing awareness to the joint, and bringing awareness to the fascia around the joint so that we whenever we do the ELDOA, it’s as good as it can possibly be. And so an ideal session, and this of course depends on the client. If they have really severe back pain, maybe there’s no strengthening, maybe there’s no stretching, maybe there’s just really gentle ELDOA. But for, let’s say, an athlete, oftentimes it’s a really, really, intense segmental strengthening workout depending on their particular needs for range of motion in their particular sport, things like that. A good amount of stretching because you can’t create space at a joint if the tissue is too tight around that joint. So you stretch it first, which we did so. We’d work it out, we’d stretch it. And then once you have the tissue, it’s a good quality, a good awareness, and now it has a good mobility around the joint, you can go for the ELDOA and you can get the best possible result from it. And that’s ideally in a perfect world how I would organize a session depending on the client and the goal for the particular session.
Ben: Okay. Cool. Perfect. One of the things that you threw around when we were doing these ELDOA treatments was “normalization of muscle tone”. What does that mean when you say you’re going to normalize muscle tone?
Jacob: Yeah. So muscle tone is essentially just the state of tension in each individual muscle and each individual part of that muscle. And so whenever you think about someone’s orthopedic system, let’s say someone who sits at a desk all day, they have classically a lot of tone, or a lot of shortening, or a lot of contractility in the posterior muscles of their neck to lift their chin up so that you look at the computer because their shoulders are slumped. And so when you think about it in that way, and this is a little bit more linear, but forgive me for that, so the muscles on the back of the neck it really short, and really tight, and really contracted, and really they have a lot of tone. If you feel them, maybe you do manual work, you can just feel a lot of times like, “Agh, I have this knot,” or muscles on one side of the neck have this very large, very firm feeling, lots of hypertrophy, and muscles on the other side of the neck feel almost flaccid and like they’ve never been worked before.
And so that muscle tone affects the way that the joint moves, and the way the joint moves affects the way that your body interacts with gravity. Because you get feedback from the joints, it’s not just a closed system from the brain to the joint. It’s also from the joint backwards too. And so that kind of dictates how your body interacts with that big force of gravity. And so whenever you normalize muscle tone, whenever you normalize a joint, you essentially bring balance back to the pulley system, or back to the levers on each side of the joint. So you can kind of think about it in a way as the mast of a ship and then the pulleys on the side of the mast the ship. If you have one that’s super, super contracted, well maybe the other one is a little bit flaccid, or a little bit weaker, or are long, or whatever it may be in a particular person’s case. And so if you normalize the mechanics at a joint, then you can help normalize the associated fascia which normalize the associated muscle tone, and then you bring quality back to the movement of that joint and the tissue around it.
Ben: So you could use something like this for something like a muscle imbalance, right? Like if you’re moving, say, improperly with some kind of a functional leg length, a discrepancy in the pelvis, or perhaps one shoulder is lower than the other due to increased muscle tone on one side than the other, you could actually ELDOA stretching protocols to normalize muscle tone in those areas?
Jacob: Yeah. Absolutely. So if you want to think about maybe a leg length discrepancy and you can think about one of the bones, sorry, not on the bones, one of the muscles in the back of, the quadratus lumborum, simply it goes from the 12th rib down to the iliac. And what happens if that gets really shortened tight because you sit at a desk, injury, anterior pelvic tilt, whatever it may be, then the fascia gets really short and tight, and the fascia gets really restricted, maybe it loses hydration, and that’ll cause a leg length discrepancy. And so, what we want to do is we want to bring normalcy back to that tissue. So what we have to do is stretch it. But if you don’t know that the muscle exists in your brain, even if it is short and tight, and that took me a while to try to understand. It’s like, “Well if it’s short and tight, then I probably know it’s there.” In reality, you might need to do an exercise to strengthen it, to bring awareness to it before you stretch it. And then it has joints that it affects. So it affects the sacroiliac joint, it maybe affects the pubic symphysis, maybe it affects the lumbar spine. And so now that the muscle is normalized, you need to normalize that joint that has interacted with all of those repetitions thousands of steps a day, if you’re an athlete, a soccer player, 10,000 kicks in a year, whatever it may be. Because then it’s more likely to maintain its position that you’ve kind of allowed it to have again. And in the educational process for the tissue maintains, and it’s able to hold its place for longer. And that’s the way that you get a better result because then you don’t have to keep getting, for example, adjusted by the chiropractor ’cause the tissue learns how to do what it needs to do through exercise.
Ben: One of the really interesting things, because I have a video on YouTube about how when I’ve had a massage therapist come to my house, she does work on my jaw. She’ll actually locate specific parts of my jaw, and I’ll put, if you guys go to bengreenfieldfitness.com/eldoa, E-L-D-O-A, I’ll put a link to the YouTube video that I actually shot when she was at my house to show like the form of jaw realignment therapy that she does. It’s like a two to three minute protocol she does kind of towards the end of the session, and you touched on earlier, actually I think this is kind of fascinating, Jacob, how like the skull bones can actually move. Like those little little sutures that connect your skull bones, they actually, a lot of people don’t realize that, that the bones in your head actually move to allow for everything from like changes in intercranial pressure, to allowing you to be able to withstand say like blunt trauma or getting hit or something like that. But along those same lines, a lot of people neglect to think of the bones, or more specifically like the soft tissue in their jaw. And you can actually create space, from what I understand, in your TMJ, in your temporomandibular joint with something like ELDOA. Do you actually do that? I mean are there ELDOAs that you can do for the jaw?
Jacob: Yeah. Yeah, there are. So a quick thing, back about the movement of the bones of the skull. In embryology, whenever the baby is forming in utero, the very very first vertebra is actually the ethmoid. And so that ethmoid bone is a bone in your skull, and then it’s the sphenoid, and then’s the occiput, and then it’s, as we know, atlas axis, things like that. And so in reality the reason why I have you push your chin back and try to elongate from the crown of your head as opposed to lifting your chin is because that fascia from your ethmoid goes all the way down to your sacrum. And so when you want to have spinal decompression or spinal elongation, like I said you need to bring the whole chain into tension. Well that whole chain stops at your forehead, not at the base of the neck. And so that’s why we do that. But, yes…
Ben: Wait. Just to backpedal for a second. When I’m doing my ELDOA stretches, I may have actually forgotten this from what you taught me. I may have gotten a B in our ELDOA class, Jacob. I’m supposed to be with my chin pushing it back, or releasing tension in my jaw as I’m doing these stretches?
Jacob: So you never want to be biting down and creating tension in the fascia of the jaw, the pterygoid fascia and things like that. But what you do want to do is what’s called retropulsing. So imagine you’re just standing up and you tuck your chin a little bit like you’re trying to maybe squeeze a penny between your chin and your throat, and then what you try to do is you try to push your chin back through your neck. So if you were lying flat on the ground, it’s essentially like you’re trying to push your head away from your butt and flatten your chin and the back of your neck against the ground. And then if you try to do that when you stand up, you just don’t have the point of reference…
Ben: It’s hard to talk on a podcast while I’m trying to do this. Like I’m imagining my head right now.
Jacob: Yeah. That’s right, that’s right.
Jacob: That’s why I like doing the ELDOA, man. I don’t have to listen to people a lot…
Ben: I forgot about doing that. I’ve been practicing my ELDOA, totally forgot about the jaw part. Okay, so you show your jaw back, this also has an effect on the TMJ?
Jacob: It does. So there is a particular ELDOA for the TMJ. So the TMJ, and there’s a cool video on YouTube that you can look up where it’s just TMJ in surgery where they show the movement of the disc inside the TMJ as you open and close your jaw. It’s really, really cool. You can kind of put your fist inside of your hand and then imagine like a little kind of jelly bean that slides back and forth in between your fist and your hand as you open and closure jaw. And so what happens is a lot of times you’ll see people, and a very common reaction any stress in someone’s life is they’ll bite down and go, “Arg! I’m so angry.” Or whenever they’re lifting a weight super hard, they’ll bite down their jaw. Or even if you, like me, like to eat a lot, I chew a lot. So there’s a lot of stress that goes into the muscles around my jaw. And it’s a very, very powerful, powerful group of muscles. And so what happens is that movement of that disc can become really, really slowed in really, really fragile if you don’t have a good balance. Because a lot of times people have maybe short muscles on one side of their neck that pulls their neck off line, which connects to the jaw and throws off the movement of the jaw.
As a little test at home, what you can do is you can look in the mirror and you can see does my jaw move straight down or does it move on like a little S-pattern or a little C-pattern. And if it does that, then what that means is that the movement on both sides of your jaw is not equal. And if both sides are bad then, that’s okay. If both sides are good, then that’s okay. It’s only when there’s an asymmetry that you really start to create problems in the body. And so what you can do is you can create a lever by using your teeth and a little dowel rod. It’s probably the thickness of a skinny pencil, depending on your height, and you can bite down on the last molars in the back of your mouth and push the chin into your palm. And what that’ll do is it creates a lever at the back of your jaw to open up space in the TMJ.
Ben: Could you just do this with like a Number 2 pencil if you’re pretty careful not to get lead poisoning?
Jacob: Yeah. I would just make sure that you don’t, depending on your height, the taller you are, the larger dowel you can use. But I would just careful not to go too hard. Not to go too hard at first, especially if it’s not the right dowel. And that’s just…
Ben: You’re saying dowel. Like D-O-W-E-L?
Jacob: D-O-W-E-L. Yeah.
Ben: Okay. Do they sell something like a jaw dowel, or an instructional video, or something like this where one could learn how to adjust their jaw with this method?
Jacob: There is not one on YouTube, and the reason that, I believe, that there’s not one at YouTube is because it is a little bit more of a fine practice ELDOA. It’s not a postural one like the ones that I instructed…
Ben: Oh, maybe it was ’cause they don’t want people choking themselves to death with dowels.
Jacob: You know, that’s actually probably true as well. I made my dowel out of a little piece of round wood about the size of a Number 2 pencil, and I cut it to fit my jaw, and it goes just on my back teeth. And the thickness is based on my height.
Ben: But the idea is that you’re biting down on that dowel, kind of trying to push your jaw back of the same time. And in doing so, you can get a little bit of like a jaw decompression.
Jacob: I’ll walk you through it. So essentially, you put your elbow on a flat surface and then you put your jaw on your elbow. So you put your chin, excuse me, on your elbow. That dowel is on your back molars, and your jaw is pushed forward just a little bit, like you’re trying to give yourself an underbite. And what you do is you bite down on the dowel simultaneously, trying to push and open your mouth. So what happens is you try to open your mouth, but your hand blocks your chin, and then you bite down on the dowel, which creates the opening or the gapping in the TMJ. And that is what relieves the pressure and normalizes that joint.
Ben: Okay. Got it. It all makes sense. I wish we had some kind of a video that we could put for people in the show notes. But perhaps eventually…
Jacob: Yeah. I just GoPro a couple of days ago. So I might make a little video, via request.
Ben: That’d be awesome. If you shoot it to me, I’ll totally embed it in the show notes for people to watch just because so many people have jaw issues that directly translate to neck issues, and as you just touched on, low back issues. And a lot of times, it all starts with mouth tension or jaw tension just from kind of being that person at work. It’s the same thing that you see a lot of people get at work. I believe it’s called the office, it’s office hypocapnia or something along those lines, where you have periods of time where you simply forget to breathe. Actually, it wouldn’t be hypocapnia. I’m not sure if it’d be hypercapnia or hypocapnia because hypocapnia, I believe, would be reduced carbon dioxide in the blood which would come from hyperventilation. So maybe it’s hypercapnia which would be like too much carbon dioxide in the blood from not breathing enough.
But, yeah, in the same way that people don’t breathe enough during work, same thing. They tighten up the jaw, and this sounds like it’d be a pretty effective therapy for something like that if you didn’t want to have a massage therapist come over to your house and do a bunch of jaw therapy on you. So it’s fascinating for me the different parts of the body this thing can hit.
Now I have a question for you. Playing devil’s advocate here, a lot of people have like fascial cross-linking, or fascial adhesions. And in many cases, that’s where you’ll see people like Kelly Starrett, for example, recommending that you do work with a hard ball, like a lacrosse ball to dig into tissue, or you have like a hard roller, like a rumble roller. Now the idea behind that is that if you are attempting to move fascia that’s knotted like a rope, all you’re going to do is like make the knots on the rope tighter and increase risk for injury. So why is it that you wouldn’t do something like a whole bunch of deep tissue work and soft tissue work before you would do something like an ELDOA session, or is that something people should be doing if they’re going to start doing ELDOA to make sure that their fascia is not all cross-linked and messy?
Jacob: Yeah, for sure. I’m actually a really big fan of Kelly. He’s the first person who really, really truly got me started with his MWOD to start to think about how can I, by myself, work on my own problems ’cause I had a pretty pretty jacked up hip from just not taking care myself for a while, which is how I kind of got really, really interested in this stuff. But to be fair, to me, and I’ll just recommend to your listeners, there’s a really, really beautiful video, and to you as well, ’cause I think it completely changes the way that I see the human body. It’s called “Strolling Under the Skin”, like you’re going for a walk, but “Strolling Under the Skin”. It’s on YouTube. And what this doctor does, his name is Dr. Jean-Claude Guimberteau, another Frenchmen, but he is a surgeon, he’s a hand surgeon. And during live surgery, he would go underneath the skin and show the movements and the relationship of the fascia, and how the fascia looks, and what it does, and its organization, and its general structure. And it is the most delicate, and beautiful, and just amazing, amazing tissue. It almost made me cry the first time I saw it. I’m not even going to lie. But it is unbelievably beautiful.
So to me to, put an extremely large compressive force through that same tissue doesn’t really make very much sense because what it is is it’s a bunch of collagen tubes, with the elastin and reticulin as well, filled with water. And what happens is if you smash that, that you push all of the water out and you break up that same tissue. I know it might make sense at least on the surface to say, “Okay, I have an adhesion. Well that adhesion, I need to break it up.” Absolutely. But in reality, what you do is that you just, at least from my perspective and from what I’ve learned, is that you just destroy the associated fascia and you cause another adhesion as well. So the adhesion came, well first off, an adhesion is an adhesion between two layers of fascia. So if you want to break up that adhesion, you need to create a sliding between those two layers. Simply rolling over those two layers is going to do nothing, at least in my opinion, but compress those two layers together even more so. Aside from that, if you want to create a separation between those two layers and if you want to undo that adhesion, causing more scar tissue by breaking up the fascia like that doesn’t make very much sense to me based off of the structure, based off the neurobiology of the fascia itself. In addition, the fascia is very, very, very complex. We’re still learning a lot about, especially me ’cause it’s not my forte at the moment, but I’m really trying to up my game in my deep understanding of that tissue. There’s a beautiful book called “The Human Living Fascia Under Endoscopy” by Dr. Jean-Claude Guimberteau that I’m reading right now. It’s amazing, amazing, amazing stuff.
Ben: “Human Living Fascia Under Endoscopy”?
Jacob: Excuse me. “Architecture Of The Human Living Fascia”.
Ben: Okay. I will link to that in the show notes along with, for anybody who wants a good cry, this skin video you mentioned. I’m intrigued now. I’m just curious to see what it is that makes you tick to see how a skin dissection video would make you cry.
Jacob: You got to watch it. Play a little bit of classical music in the background, dim the lights a little bit. You know what I mean. Just get some me time.
Ben: Right. Get some estrogen into the system. Maybe some soybeans prior so you can get your man boobs and weepiness going on.
Jacob: A little tofu skin rub or something like that.
Ben: Okay. On it. Yes. Tofu skin rub. So “The Architecture Of Human Living Fascia” and “Strolling Under The Skin”, essentially what you’re saying is that these two resources highlight the fact that no amount of foam rolling or deep tissue work is necessarily going to reinvent the fascia based on the way that it’s structured?
Jacob: Absolutely not. Any kind of, so we especially in the West tend to associate pain with gain. So with the first time that you foam roll, I mean I used to foam roll. You can ask my roommate. He said I was either always watching a movie or stretching and foam rolling. So I used to foam roll all the time. And remember for me, I was like, “Man, this is so painful.” Like this is very, very tough. And I would use a flat foam roller, I’d use a rumble roller, I’d put it in the freezer before. I’d do stupid stuff. I was trying to put in the oven before, like to heat it up and do all these different things and it was always still very painful. It didn’t feel quite as painful after, but I feel like that’s because of the gate control theory where you get this large influx of hormones that essentially make anything afterwards feel a little bit less painful. But regardless of that, yeah. The fascia is very, very complex. And if you look at, for example, say, the IT band, which is a really, really common area for people to attempt to foam roll. The IT band is the continuation of what’s called the deltoid of Farabeuf. So the deltoid of Farabeuf is essentially the superficial fascia of the gleutimus maximus, gluteus maximus, my bad, gluteus medius, and the tensor fascia latae, and they all come together and form the IT band.
What happens is the IT band has several different directions the fibers, and those fibers are the collagen tubes that we talk about. Those tubes, the reason you have a tube is to fill it with water. And so whenever you compress a tube, you need to compress it in the right direction, or else you don’t push the water in the right direction but you push it out of the tube. You don’t stimulate the flow and the movement of that water even more, you cause even more of a hampering. And you have to realize that whenever you foam roll, you not only foam roll the fascia, but you foam roll the muscle, the associated vessel, the nerve, and a lot of times if we’re not trying to create adhesion, it doesn’t make sense to me to compress a whole lot of things. It makes more sense to try to create a sliding between the two layers. But to create a sliding between the two layers, you need to make sure that we know the anatomy of the layers that we’re attempting to go after. For example the vastus medialus longitudinalis has directions of fibers that are both oblique and vertical. So if I’m trying to work on one part of the vastus, then I need to go an oblique direction. That oblique direction stops and starts at a particular point. If I need to go in a horizontal direction, or excuse me, a vertical one the same rules apply. And I need to try to stimulate the movement of that liquid or the movement of the layers of the fascia between the muscles. And so to me, yes, ideally I would have a fascial, the therapy term is the fascial normalization before doing the exercise to maintain the quality of the fascia that I did with my hands. But I’m not a therapist. At least not yet.
Ben: Okay. Got it. Do you not do any foam rolling at all now?
Ben: Interesting. See, I do rolling, and I do some work with the ball, et cetera. I found that for pain related to movement issues, like after a long run when my glute med seems as though they’re sore, or for example, another area that I found I respond very, very well to it lately in terms of just like erasing pain within a few days was my biceps brachialis, kind of up around my shoulder area. Rolling that, I’ve actually been able to use it successfully for eliminating pain in many cases. So why is it that using something like that would get rid of pain in my case do you think?
Jacob: You know, that’s a great question. And I’m really not sure. There is a lot of value to the individual experience. And there’s a lot of times where I have kind of pulled on individual experience to say, “Hey, this has worked, and I believe in this, and I want to try to find out the reason why.” Whenever it comes to my exercise selection, or my choice of therapy, or what I use, or what education I pursue, it has to make sense to me on a fundamental level for me to really, really enjoy it. So for example, I was in Los Angeles this past weekend and we’re trying to learn individual exercises for the different fibers, whether it be distal, proximal, lateral, medial, deep, superficial, whatever it may be of each of the muscles of the leg, and there’s a lot of muscles in the leg. And so if you understand the anatomy, then all you have to do is just reverse engineer and you can say, “Okay. I can make up the exercise.” But as soon as you try to just memorize the exercise, that’s when you lose your kind of ability to really be an effective trainer because now you’re just giving exercise because it’s there and not because you understand why the person needs it.
So whenever it comes to an individual therapy, like, so why do you get pain relief from lacrosse ball or from foam rolling? I don’t know. To be perfectly honest, it doesn’t make sense to me. And it might work for you, but I’m sure there’s other people who it hasn’t worked for like myself. So why is that? I’m not really sure. But from a superficial perspective, if I look down, and after watching Strolling Under The Skin, and getting a nice water work show, and you see that the gentle and beautiful fibrillar nature that is this kind of almost chaotic but also organized system of water tubes that is your body, it doesn’t make very much sense for me to try to sit my butt on a foam roller and squish that water out. And then in addition, you have to look at the anatomy too. Because a lot of times people will get, for example, sciatica not because they have disc compression in the lumbar spine but because the fascia of the piriformis or the glute medius is unorganized, or too tight, or in torsion, or whatever it may be. And so if you think about sitting your butt on a, I don’t know, three centimeter square golf ball, or lacrosse ball, or softball, or whatever it is that you choose, you realize that you’re putting a whole bunch of pressure not only into the fascia, I think squishing out the water and causing compression between the layers, but also through the muscle.
Well just beneath the muscle is a lot of veins, a lot of arteries. And in relation to the piriformis, pudendal nerve, sciatic nerve, inferior and superior gluteal nerves, like all these nerves that give people a lot of problems. And just like any other orthopedic problem, sitting at a desk for one hour a day whenever you’re a kid, like whenever you’re six years old, it doesn’t give you very much pain. Whenever you’re eight, no pain. 10, no pain. 15, no pain. It’s only when you’re 30 that all those accumulated stresses of sitting in a desk have started to add up and actually give you the orthopedic problems that exist in pain. So a lot of times, we have this disconnection with the source of the problem and the actual symptoms because the timeline of the difference between those two things is so great. And I think in my personal perspective, that is the kind of, the idea why I don’t really believe in foam rolling.
Ben: Yeah. I get what you’re saying. I have a couple of theories. My first is that it’s potentially increasing range of motion. And the reason that I think that is just based off of studies that have been done on foam rolling, a.k.a. self myofascial release is what they call it. I think one was recently in The Journal of Strength Conditioning Research where they looked at foam rolling application on kneed extensor force and knee range of motion. And just a couple of minutes significantly increase the range of motion, in this case the quadriceps muscles. So whether it’s proprioceptive, or whether it’s movement-based, or perhaps even blood flow-based, there seems to an improvement of range of motion. The other thing is this idea that the skin is chock full of, below the surface of the skin and superficial to the fascia, if I understand the anatomy correctly, proprioceptors, and nerve endings, and even areas that would allow for the release of neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, and dopamine, and endorphin, and even some of these neurotransmitters that would be considered also to be pain killing chemicals. And part of it might be the eliciting of a chemical release that, despite it, let’s assume what you’ve just said is correct and it’s not all that great for the fascia, maybe there’s a range of motion, a proprioceptive and a biochemical response that goes above and beyond just like a fascial connection.
Jacob: Yeah. That’s very, very possible. Whenever I consider the kind of hierarchy of the human body, at least orthopedically, from my school, and I really don’t like to corner myself in one way of thinking because then you start to get talked about dogmatic in all these ways like, “Oh, no. I’m not listening to anything else,” and I think that’s horrible. But I see the fascia is number one. I really, really, really do. Like the muscle is protein and water, and you as a human and me as a human are 70 plus percent water, hopefully if we’re hydrated. And so why don’t we just look like a big bag of water sitting on the counter, on the chair, or hopefully standing if you’re doing the right thing? But why don’t we just look like a big bag of water? It’s because the fascia gives us our shape and gives us our structure. So whatever it comes to the kind of organization of the orthopedic system, I put fascia at number one, at the top. And also whenever you talk about the nervous system, you have to think, “Okay, the nervous system kind of ends blindly in the periphery.” Somewhere. I haven’t learned. I haven’t gotten to that level just yet. But the nerves, at least more proximal, are covered in fascia. The epineurium and the perineurium. So those fascia are important for the structure of the nerve. And so whenever I think about, for example, a range of motion increase, if I have a tissue that is, maybe it’s not sliding between layers and that’s preventing a range of motion thing. If I just, for example, go in and just cut the tissue or break it up with a lacrosse ball, then I will have an increase in range of motion. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that I have an increase in the quality of the tissue and the long term effect.
Ben: It’s kind of similar to if you we’re eating a crappy diet and weren’t hydrating your joints properly. Yeah, you could probably get some benefits out of, say, decompression or I guess if you were dehydrated, possibly not even that. But you might be able to get some benefits out of something like any form of deep tissue work. But perhaps if you weren’t hydrated or weren’t eating properly, you’re still not going to hit the key underlying issue that would be causing the pain in the first place.
Jacob: Yeah. Absolutely, man. I mean we could spend a whole bunch of time talking about water and just its importance in the body. I mean you are 70 plus percent water, which is kind of cool because the Earth is also a lot of water and I think there’s some correlation there. But not only that, but the disc, the disc itself is so, so water rich. And you cannot create a flow in the water of your fascia and you cannot hydrate the disc if you do not have any water. And that is such a, such a big thing that people just don’t understand. Like I was talking to my friend maybe a couple weeks ago he sent me a picture of this supplement that his mother is taking. And it has glucosamine, and chondroitin, and keratin, I mean all that stuff. And I was like, “Cool. How much water is she drinking?” He’s like, “Aw, man. She doesn’t drink any water.” And it just makes me laugh. It’s because a lot of times we spend all this time looking at the trees and we just don’t take a step back and look at the forest.
And that’s the same way, for example, with a lot of times the way we study anatomy. We go, “Okay, this muscle starts at the ischial tuberosity and ends on the tibia.” Well, in reality the fascia and like the meat, yeah, if you want to look at like a sixth grade textbook does. But in reality it’s continuous with the sacrotuberous ligament which is continuous with [1:10:40] ______ all the way down the line. And it’s only when you start to see the body and the effects of the body in that way that we can really, really, I think, increase the quality of the training and increase the quality of the therapy that we give people. Because it’s a, pardon my pun and pardon my little plug here, but it’s a shift in the way that we think, in the way that we move, in the way that we train that is I think the most important kind of progress that is coming up.
Jacob: Back to the foam rolling and to the lacrosse ball thing. If you put a large stimulus through a muscle like that, and the only kind of way it’s going to protect itself is a down regulation or some kind of regulation of the nervous system, I think in the immediate, I think it’s very, very narrow. Not saying that you’re this way, but the studies, which is scientific in a way, they kind of have to be narrow so they can focus on one thing. It’s very, very narrow to just say, “Okay. Cool. Foam rolling is good because it improved range of motion and leg extensor strength within five minutes.” I mean that’s okay, but like steroids improves your strength within a month, but no one is saying that that’s necessarily the good thing. Cocaine would make you stronger too, but we’re not, you know.
Ben: Yeah. I was kind of spitballing about potential mechanisms of action, but what you’re saying makes sense. And obviously that debate has gone on for a while about whether or not foam rolling works or not. I have found though that when I combine some of these mobility methods, like the ELDOA and also include foam rolling, or targeted deep tissue work on a few spots here and there, for me personally, it helps a ton with both range of motion as well as general comfort and mobility. And I did want to ask you what, I know we’re getting close to time, but I wanted to ask you a couple other things, specifically related to ELDOA if you’re game. ‘Cause I’ve just got a few kind of practical questions. How often? Like let’s say somebody learned, or is there a rule? ‘Cause right now I just sprinkle it throughout the week. But how often in terms of frequency during the week would be best if there is an ideal frequency? And perhaps more importantly, how long do you hold each individual stretch? Like if somebody’s going to go, let’s say somebody decides they’re going to go to YouTube and look up like a T6/T7 ELDOA, and it’s a three second video that shows someone in the move but doesn’t show a length of stretch, how long should someone hold it? And also is there an ideal frequency like per week to do something like this?
Jacob: Yeah, absolutely. So whenever it comes to the duration that you should hold each particular stretch, you can take, in reality, as long or as little time getting into the posture as long as you’re properly warmed up, in a perfect scenario, as you want. Just to make sure that your head’s in the right place, your knees, and your back, and all that stuff is in a good spot. But once you’re in the final, full-on, like textbook picture posture, you try to hold that with your best possible effort for one minute. After that 60 seconds you slowly unwind because you’ve just put a lot of stretch in a lot of movement into the joint and you don’t want to have the rebound effect. So you slowly come out of that. But 60 seconds for the final posture is the textbook kind of, the way to go.
Ben: Okay. That’s what I’ve been shooting for. I can usually, what I found is that rather than watching the clock, which is hard to do when your wrist is like in hyper extension and you’re focusing on your toes and everything, I found for me it’s about 10 really kind of like deep breaths that I can get through over the course of about 60 seconds. So I just pay attention to my breathing. Once I get to 10 breaths, I’m pretty close to that 60 seconds. And then as far as frequency of the actual movements, I mean is it, ’cause for me it comes out to probably about once a day I’m doing some form of an ELDOA for about 60 seconds. And so I’m sprinkling throughout the week like probably 8 to 10 different moves.
Jacob: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely.
Ben: Or 8 to 10 different stretches with really three different moves. And I’ll link to the three moves that I found to be most effective, at least for me in my own use in the show notes. But, go ahead.
Jacob: Yeah. Totally. So depending on your particular thing, so if you are someone who is just looking to feel better, have a little bit better posture, decompress a little bit, all these kind of things, it’s totally cool to kind of just mix in whichever ones you learn throughout the day or throughout the week because you don’t really have necessarily a specific goal. If you are, for example, a rotational athlete, whether it be a golfer, or a thrower, or even a runner ’cause that’s a big rotational sport, there are specific ones that you should do. T6/T7, 7/8, 8/9, 9/10. Those ones are really, really important. And you can do those once a day. And so when you look at that, you say, “Okay. Well four different stretches, that’s five minutes maybe each day.” And then L5/S1 always to balance the pelvis. I finish every single day with my legs up on the wall. It’s just my little own little me time. I breathe deep, I relax, I kind of let the blood flow go. That’s how I finish my day. So I’ll always finish with L5/S1.
And then I do little routines because I’m a practitioner and I need to make sure that my level of my understanding is as good as possible. I do routines where I kind of just run through the textbook every so often and I’ll organize a hip session, or a rib session, or a mid back, low back session just to make sure that I myself understand how to adapt the exercise for an individual like myself and I’m not just trying to go after the textbook. But if you are, if you have an ELDOA practitioner in your area, these are amazing, amazing, amazing classes to attend in a group format. So just like you would in, or excuse me, a yoga or pilates class, it’s amazing to go to an ELSOA class. I have never felt better than whatever I do a group ELDOA class for the education that I attend. So once a day. If you’re only going to do one, do L5/S1 at the end of the day because you kind of get the snowball rolling down the hill if you’re decompressing your spine as you sleep. ‘Cause you go from standing, where you’re being directly pushed down against gravity, to horizontal, where it’s more evenly dispersed across the spine, which is why you’re taller in the morning when you wake up. So you get that all rolling, drink a little bit of water, and you sleep like a baby.
Ben: Okay. Cool. Got it. And then the last question is for people to learn. Obviously you’re not going to fly to everybody’s house from Louisiana, and show up on their front door, and walk in there, and have them going to tortures poses in their living room for hours on end. Can people learn this via videos? Is there like some kind of a practitioner directory they can go to online? What’s the best way for people to learn how to ELDOA? ‘Cause frankly, I’ve been immersed in the physical fitness for quite some time and I’d never heard of it. So I know it flies under the radar, but how can people actually learn how to do this?
Jacob: Yeah. Absolutely. So if you are really interested in learning how to do the techniques for yourself, there are ELDOA practitioners who put on workshops, and you can find those workshops on somafinder, SOMAfinder.com. And that lists all of the workshops, whether it be the ELDOA one, whether it be the therapy ones that Dr. Voyer teaches, and then also the people who he has allowed to teach the base level training and therapy courses. If you are just looking to learn one or two postures so that you can start to see, “Hey, maybe I’m interested in this,” “Maybe I’m not,” “I feel good,” “I don’t,” then you can go on YouTube and look at some of these. There are some that are better than others. Dan Hellman has a good video on there. There is a guy named Josh Rubin who has a good video. But you just have to be wary that there are some videos that really, really suck. Like they have their shoes on, they’re not using a wall for L5…
Ben: I realized that after I started looking for videos after you taught me. I was kind of proud of myself. I was identifying issues with people’s form and I realized that not everybody is like Jacob. But it’s somafinder.com for that, where you can find an ELDOA practitioner. And then your website is shiftsportwellness.com, correct?
Jacob: That’s correct. Yeah. Just had that launched a couple days ago. Pretty excited about it. I’ll have a video on there demonstrating T6/T7 where I kind of explain what’s going on, and that’ll be hopefully a good quality for people to see what the method is really all about. And we’re, I say we, the methodology is starting to expand, it’s starting to grow, and it’s finding a little bit of traction in different communities, and that’s really why I approached you as well. It’s ’cause I feel like you have an amazing listenership and a really good outreach to different people, and I think it can be a great benefit to a lot of people around. And so I hope it has that effect.
Ben: Cool. And I’ll put a link to your website. And also, guys, I’ll twist Jake’s arm have him put on that GoPro and film the jaw realignment for us too, or the ELDOA for the jaw, and I’ll put that, I’ll link to his site, everything else that we talked about over at bengreenfieldfitness.com/eldoa, bengreenfieldfitness.com/ELDOA. And in the meantime, Jacob, thanks for coming on the show and sharing all this stuff with this, man. I’m really stoked to see what people say in the comments once they get a chance to try it out. And by the way, if you’re listening, I mean especially, especially if you have low back pain, this is like one of the number one things that I’m recommending now to decompress and heal the spine, and rehydrate the discs, as Jake explained earlier. So thanks for coming on the show, Jake.
Jacob: Yeah, man. Actually a pleasure. Thanks for having me.
Ben: Alright. Cool. Well folks, thanks for listening in. I’m Ben Greenfield along with Jacob Schoen signing out from bengreenfieldfitness.com. The show notes are at bengreenfieldfitness.com/eldoa. Thanks for listening in.
Four months ago, a guy knocked on my front door.
He’d flown all the way up from Alabama to my house to train me in a new method of movement and deep fascial stretching that I had never before encountered…something called the “ELDOA Method”.
Now don’t get me wrong: I’ve done my fair share of mobility training.
For example, in the article “The 5 Essential Elements of A Training Program That Most Athletes Neglect – Part 3: Mobility“, I delve into how, on a weekly basis, I engage in everything from active stretching to yoga to foam rolling to traction to deep tissue massage and beyond.
But Jacob Schoen, the guy who showed up at my house (and my guest on today’s podcast) and trained me for eight solid hours over the course of a weekend, introduced me to this new form of extremely intensive “stretching”, and helped me discover something I now take breaks from work to do each day and one of the best ways to eliminate low back pain, heal the spine, and get a full body myofascial stretch.
It looks like this:
Jacob Schoen is the owner and founder of SHIFT Sport and Wellness in New Orleans, LA. Jacob is currently studying in the programs of a guy named Dr. Guy Voyer and is using this education to change the way people approach and associate with their pain or performance. By focusing on the purpose, precision, and quality of exercise Jacob inspires people to “move more aware” in the gym and in life. He hopes that by creating awareness in the individual through movement that he can create momentum towards a more connected and conscious culture of health.
During our discussion, you’ll discover:
-How Jacob discovered ELDOA after a series of injuries and poor movement patterns developed from cycling and triathlon…[9:47]
-Why ELDOA is like using an inversion table on your whole body…[15:15]
-What it means to create space within your joint s (and why joints aren’t “stacked” the way you would think they are)…[18:30]
-On a physiological level, what does ELDOA do, exactly? [22:45]
-Why most stretching practices or techniques don’t actually target your myofascia, and how ELDOA does…[25:30]
-How stretching your wrist and big toe at the same time can, surprisingly, decompress your actual spine…[29:20]
-What a sample ELDOA session actually looks like…[31:45]
-What it means to “normalize” your muscle tone…[41:12]
-What you probably don’t know about the bones in the skull and why your jaw and skull bones are so important for decompressing your spine…[45:19]
-How to self-adjust your jaw with a dowel…[50:15]
-Why Jake is not a fan of foam rolling and deep tissue work and why Ben is…[54:15]
-The #1 completely natural supplement you can take that is almost free and that vastly decreases back pain…[69:20]
-How often you should do ELDOA…[72:45]
-The best way for you to learn how to do ELDOA yourself…[77:00]
-And much more!
Resources from this episode:
-Some sample videos of a few of my favorite ELDOA stretches if you want to see what ELDOA training looks like: