“I didn’t know much about ELDOA until I started seeing Jacob for personal sessions. The way he explained it made perfect sense and seemed like a great tool for overcoming my specific injury (bulging disc). I was impressed at how thorough he was during the initial consult and how he revealed things about my posture that I was unaware of. Of all the different physical therapists I visited and learned from, the ELDOA stretches I learned from Jacob alleviate my pain the most. Would highly recommend that anyone suffering from spinal injuries, who want to take an active role in their recovery, schedule an appointment with Jacob.”
– Michael Leblanc, DDS
The ELDOA is a group of exercises designed by French Osteopath, Dr. Guy Voyer, over 30 years ago. Translated into English as LOADS (Longitudinal Osteo-Articular Decoaptation Stretches), the ELDOA techniques provide the only anatomically and biomechanically sound exercise means for relieving joint compression. Dr. Voyer originally developed the ELDOA to provide relief to the largest orthopedic epidemic of that time: back pain. He asked himself the question: “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?” His answer was exercise. By giving the patient these exercises to do at home, in conjunction with training, he found unprecedented results in their effectiveness. The ELDOA address the root cause of your pain or limitation and allow you to be your own best therapist. There is truly no other tool like it.
What are the ELDOA?
In their simplest form, the ELDOA are postural exercises that create decompression at a chosen joint. Essentially, they create space. For example, you can do an exercise for precisely the level of L5-S1 of the lower back, C4-C5 of the neck, or the 7th rib. There is an ELDOA for every level of the spine as well as many for the pelvis, hip, and rib cage. The ELDOA are done by you, the patient, as a means of auto- normalizing your own body and pain. These exercises are painless, no impact, and extremely precise in their effect. When working with the ELDOA you are using your entire body, fascial system, and brain to create the best possible outcome and movement quality.
The ELDOA techniques are very special because they require the client to do all of the work. This means that your tissue learns how to heal itself and create the change that your body needs. No one pops, cracks, pulls, or pushes on you. These exercises create a great compliment to yoga but are not the same as yoga. These exercises create “self-applied decompression” which means no fancy equipment, hanging upside down, or having a therapist pull on your limbs. You do the work to heal your own body.
Facet joint decompression
Increased hydration of the intervertebral disc
Increased venous return
Normalization of muscle tone
Proprioceptive facilitation of the spine
Improved kinetic sense
Improved sense of well being
Relief from chronic and acute pain
Improved posture and postural strength
Normalization of Myofascial tensions
Improved tissue quality and mobility
How ELDOA Works
“The ELDOA put the Myofascial chains into tension around the point of a primary lesion, the center of decoaptation(decompression). This Myofascial solicitation engenders a postural normalization.”
How do these injuries begin?
The disc exists in a “pretension” or “preloaded” state due to the structure of the fascia and surrounding soft tissue. What this means is that it functions like a “closed cyclinder” under Pascal’s law and responds to changes in pressure. When a pressure is applied to this disc for too long or with too much force the disc loses water and, subsequently, height. It is an excess of pressure, or compression, that results in most common pathologies like disc bulges, herniations, etc. Compression can occur due to Gravity, poor posture, acute injury, sitting, sport training, and strength training. If we want to relieve the pain from the injury we must address the cause of the problem; therefore, we must relieve the pressure.
How can we undo this compression?
We must create a negative pressure or “decompression” within the disc. Tension above and below the joint “pull apart” the joint and give us the ability to precisely affect the desired area. This decompression is created through tension of the fascial system created by the client through precise instruction and concentrated effort.
Who can benefit?
No, really. Everyone can benefit from a regular ELDOA practice because we all exist under the force of Gravity. Thanks a lot, Newton. As Gravity pushes down on us, day-in and day-out, we lose hydration in our disc and space in our facet joints. This reduces our height, restricts our mobility, cramps our soft tissue, degrades our posture, and constricts our natural movement. The ELDOA serves to undo this compression and results in a more connected body with better tissue health and posture.
People with chronic and acute pain
Pain is a very complex issue and must be addressed at the root cause to find any lasting relief. By addressing the root cause of compression, the ELDOA relieves chronic pain and postural conditions as well as acute injuries. Additionally, the ELDOA help normalize the soft tissue, vascular, visceral, and hormonal systems. This effect provides a completely holistic approach toward eliminating pain for good.
Scoliosis and other Spinal Irregularities
Scoliosis is an abnormal curvature in the spine. Although the origins of each scoliosis are individualized, the ELDOA can be used to help correct and normalize all of them. By creating space between the vertebra as well as normalizing the balancement in the muscular tone, the ELDOA effectively serve to “straighten” this curvature over time. The ELDOA reeducate the muscle and fascial system around the spine while simultaneously strengthening the supporting structures. This results in a positive change to the curvature that will be maintained after the exercise is done. It is never too late to address a scoliosis and is always best if caught early so that it does not affect daily life as you age.
Training to be the best comes at a cost to the longevity and health of the bodies of athletes. Many sports require specialization from a young age to become elite that results in repetitive stress to the same muscles and joints over many years. Even sports with many movement patterns subject their athletes to rigorous training including weight lifting, plyometrics, and oftentimes high-speed collisions. What are you, the athlete, doing to ensure that you undo this trauma and remain uninjured as your career progresses? I can tell you that flopping around on a foam roller, getting taped and scraped, and a little stretching will not accomplish anything towards longevity in sport. You must normalize joint mechanics, soft tissue mobility, and compression from training. The ELDOA is the only technique that adequately accomplishes these goals. Additionally, you learn all of your skills in sport through training actively. Your recovery and attempt at change should be the same. To passively address orthopedic problems makes no sense. This is why the ELDOA makes sense and why it is active on the part of the client.
Desk Occupations and Students
Sitting has a tremendous impact on everything from muscular and orthopedic balance to mood. By creating a chronically poor posture adapted to life at a desk, you set yourself up for long-term neck, shoulder, and lower back pain. The ELDOA are challenging postural exercises that serve to undo your entire time sitting and bring you back to postural neutral. This helps reestablish a good relationship with Gravity, balance your orthopedic system, and strengthen your abs, back, and postural muscles.
Before and after surgery
The ELDOA have been used very successfully to help clients avoid back, hip, neck, and shoulder surgeries. If used preventatively, the ELDOA can often undo the cause of the pain and make the surgery unnecessary. If surgery must be done then you can use the ELDOA to condition the system so that return to normal activity after surgery will be much quicker. Think of this as building a bit of “fitness” into the system so that your return to full activity is expedited.
Bearing a child is simultaneously the most beautiful thing on this planet and the most stressful to the orthopedic system of the mother. An additional 30- 40lbs on the front of the mother affects their relationship with gravity, curvature of the spine, balance in muscular and fascial connections, visceral function, and hormonal system. Additionally, the pelvis undergoes a tremendous stress during delivery that can directly result in lower back and sacroiliac joint pain (SI joint). It is beneficial for the mother to do specific ELDOA before delivery to strengthen the postural system, prepare for birth, and alleviate discomfort. It is important after delivery to undo the trauma to the orthopedic structures, normalize the relationship with the visceral and reproductive systems, and return to normal alignment as quickly as possible.
- It is the most common complaint among adults.
- The lifetime prevalence of back pain in the working population is up to 80%.
- 60% experience functional limitation or disability.
- It is the second most common reason for work disability.
- Despite advances in imaging and surgical techniques Low Back Pain prevalence and its cost are relatively unchanged.
- 90% of people over the age of 50 have degenerative disc disease.
- At one time or another 80% of Americans will experience back pain.
- Nearly 72% of those who experience back pain take pain medications to help alleviate the symptoms.
ELDOA for the hips, ribs, pelvis, and TMJ
Hip (Coxofemoral Joints)
The hip is naturally predisposed to a limited range of motion, compression, and osteoarthritis. The hip, anatomically, is like a “little head (femur) in a big hat (acetabulum).” This means that it is crucial to delay the compression in this joint through active decompression techniques. ELDOA for the hip can prevent and undo osteoarthritis, relieve hip pain, improve athletic movements, and increase range of motion.
The pelvis is a very complex system of joints anatomically and biomechanically speaking. It must move during every sport movement, walking, and childbirth. To increase your body’s awareness of this movement as well as the quality of the movement it is important to do ELDOA for these joints. If these joints do not move properly then many and far-reaching orthopedic problems can persist. By giving these joints space we effectively normalize their movement and restore proper function to the basis for our movement as humans… walking!
The movement of the ribs is crucial in many aspects of human function and is most notable in breathing. Ribs can become “stuck” or “out of place” for any number of reasons. This dysfunction can restrict movement and create pathologies in breathing. By creating space where the ribs interact with the spine and the sternum (costovertebral and sternocostal joints) we can improve these natural movements and increase breathing capacity and respiratory health. Additionally, like the spine, there are many joints for the ribs and if you have a specific rib that needs to be normalized then only a specific exercise will accomplish that goal.
The movement of the TMJ is necessary for eating, talking, balance, and breathing among many other things. This joint has a complex biomechanical role and can become inflamed, off-axis, and arthritic due to poor mechanics. By creating space in the TMJ, we normalize the movement of the disc and help promote a healthy jaw which can affect earaches, headaches, and neck pain.