You probably know of chiropractic treatment and physical therapy for pain relief and posture work, but did you know there is also a specific branch of training that teaches your body to heal itself on its own?
The ELDOA method involves a variety of one-minute exercises specific to a certain joint or area of the body that are designed to self-normalize those tissues. These exercises are very specific and sometimes complex stretches — more adeptly called “extreme end-range contractions.”
ELDOA exercises promote healing by using global-fascial tension to make space around the joint. Global-fascial tension is the act of summoning all of the effort and tension you can muster to pull two points on your body away from one another when you’re positioned in a particular exercise. It’s that tension that creates de-coaptation, or space around a joint.
That de-coaptation is the key to healing. When your joints are compressed from being stuck in a maladaptive posture or position for too long — whether from habit, from injury, or from your anatomy — this creates pain, restricted movement, and further structural imbalances.
For example, take low back pain — one of the most common conditions in adults with a variety of potential causes and contributors. There’s often some amount of compression in your spine that’s behind that pain, which is what the de-coaptation you experience in ELDOA exercises aims to alleviate. Same goes for any other joint pain in your body.
So, how exactly does ELDOA create this de-coaptation and move your body towards less pain and better posture?
According to certified ELDOA trainer Angie Campbell, when an ELDOA exercise is done correctly, three special things happen.
1. ELDOA imbibes the tissues surrounding the joint with fluid to keep them healthy and hydrated.
The movement of fluid in your body is one of the main forces of healing. When the de-coaptation of your joint occurs from the ELDOA exercise, fluid from the surrounding matrix is pulled into the tissues that support that joint. “Think of it as giving your joint a “drink of water” that’s going to hydrate it and make it function better,” says Angie.
Additionally, your body tends to lose fluid throughout the day. You may have heard the saying that you’re shorter at the end of the day than you were when you woke up — that’s because of this loss of fluid.
According to Angie, “Performing ELDOA exercises consistently can actually make you gain an inch in height by keeping the space between the joints open and the fluid flowing.”
2. ELDOA teaches your tissues to normalize themselves so you can improve your posture.
Over time, your tissues and joints can become used to a certain posture or position if it’s one you spend a lot of time in. For example, if you spend a lot of time throughout the day sitting down, your hip flexors may be tight and weak. “Normalization” of that tissue would be to bring them back to strength and high mobility.
“Consistent ELDOA practice teaches your tissues what that healthy posture and position feels like, so your tissues become educated over time and capable of holding that healthy posture,” says Angie.
This is similar to the goal of a practice like chiropractic treatment, physical therapy, or Soma training, but the difference is, ELDOA empowers your body to achieve that goal on its own, rather than with an external force. That being said, ELDOA is an excellent supplement with all the more utility when used in conjunction with other treatments.
3. ELDOA heightens your body awareness and proprioception to keep you less injury-prone.
Body awareness (also called “interoception”) is your brain’s ability to understand and feel your body’s movement and capabilities. Awareness, however, doesn’t stop there — your body actually has its own awareness called proprioception, which functions independently of your brain.
“Your ligaments are the “brains” of your joints,” says Angie. “They are in charge of spatially sensing the world around you and understanding where your joints are in relation to one another and to your surroundings.”
Practicing ELDOA can help you heighten both your body awareness and your proprioception, which is more important than you’d think — it’s what helps protect you from injury. Plus, your awareness and proprioception feed one another: you can’t make much change without awareness, and better awareness opens the door to better proprioception.
While there are ELDOAs that are prescriptive for injuries and pain, there are also ELDOAs that can be done for general postural improvement and are beneficial for anyone, as stated before. Additionally, certain ELDOAs can even help with the function of your nervous system as it relates to stress regulation, organ system function, and endocrine system function — so it’s a truly multidimensional practice.
When you’re getting started with ELDOA, your trainer will take you through a specific warmup routine of micromovements that will show how your joints are moving, which will help your trainer understand how to best prepare you to achieve great results.
You’ll then get a prescription of 4-6 ELDOA exercises that are entirely individualized to your needs and your goals, whether it’s postural, mobility-related, or pain-related. Your trainer will help you perform the exercises correctly, with the proper global-fascial tension and effort applied so you can feel how they are done, and you’ll be able to practice these regularly on your own.
“You may intuitively think that ELDOAs become easier over time as you become stronger and stretchier — but this couldn’t be farther from the truth,” says Angie. And it’s a critical distinction to make.
ELDOAs only work as long as you’re putting in 100% effort and global-fascial tension — so as you become stretchier, the amount of effort increases as well in order to reach that peak tension and reap the benefits.
Joint pain and posture issues don’t have to hurt your quality of life forever. ELDOA can help correct the structural imbalances that often cause them in the first place and train your body to adapt to a newer, healthier position for a better quality of life.
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