ELDOA: The Exercise We All Should be Doing
Life, Movement, and Growth
Unless you’re a professional athlete or physical therapist, you probably haven’t heard of ELDOA. ELDOA is all about movement. Movement is essential to life. Without movement, we stagnate. This includes physical and mental movement. Physical movement keeps our bodies healthy. Mental movement–like learning a new skill–keeps our minds sharp. And having a good mind-body connection is fundamental to living a healthy life.
But that doesn’t mean it comes without effort. It’s all too easy to get stuck in a certain mindset and forget how to move and grow. Learning, growing, physical fitness, and happiness take work–but it’s well worth it! People are often unaware that they can be their own best therapists. Movement, both physical and mental, can stimulate our body’s own self-healing process. And we can all use movement to build our mind-body connection to promote a healthy life! I emphasize this to all my clients. This is especially true of clients suffering from chronic pain. One of the best methods to maintain this mind-body connection and stimulate movement is a practice called ELDOA.
What is ELDOA?
ELDOA is a novel system of movements developed by French osteopath Guy Voyer. His goal was to develop an exercise system that uses the entire body with a focus on the spine. The acronym is French for “Elongation Longitudinaux Avec Decoaption Osteo Articulaire”. In English, this translates to “Longitudinal Osteo-articular De-coaptation Stretching” (sometimes called “LOADS”). At its core, ELDOA centers on focused and controlled movements. These movements promote fascial stretching.
While few people have heard of the fascial system, it plays an important role within our bodies. Fasciae are bands or sheets of connective tissue in our bodies. Fascia stabilizes, attaches, encloses and separates muscles and internal organs. The fascial system allows our bodies to move and function. ELDOA stretches this system to keep it healthy and optimizes space within joints. The stretches promote spinal health and help align the shoulders, hips, and pelvis. This helps maintain a solid spinal foundation enabling more fluid and effortless movement.
If you’d like to learn more about fascia check out my blog post: What the Fascia?
The Father of ELDOA, Guy Voyer, DO
“The whole is more than the sum of its part: one part cannot be properly understood in isolation. Study and research, philosophy, psychology, and sociology led me to the discovery of complexity models.” — Guy Voyer, DO
Dr. Voyer understood that the body is a system of many parts. To ensure the system is healthy, he knew that exercises and movements need to act on it as a whole. He discovered a mixture of stretches and movements which put the entire body in tension. He was able to refine these movements to target specific joints and improve body mechanics. Even though these movements put the body in tension, he found that they also cause relaxation. These stretches are able to decompress the spinal disc and nerves. They can release tension in the facet joints and improve muscle tone. And thus, Dr. Voyer created a system of movements that focused on these principles. This system came to be known as ELDOA.
You can read more about Dr. Guy Voyer and his work on his website.
Benefits of ELDOA
I recommend ELDOA exercises to many of my clients following their sports massage. This is particularly true of those clients who suffer from chronic pain. ELDOA enables the body to stretch the fascia and can decompress the body to help ease the cause of chronic pain. I practice ELDOA regularly myself to keep my body in good health. Personally, it helps me recover and maintain an active and rigorous lifestyle. Not to mention it is a great way to maintain and grow your own mind-body connection.
The benefits of ELDOA aren’t limited to muscles and joints. ELDOA has a range of positive effects for our bodies. It benefits many systems including the digestive, respiratory, and cardiac system. This is because fascia is everywhere in the body. Every organ, every muscle, every artery, vein, and nerve. There isn’t a single structure in the body that isn’t connected or enveloped by fascia. It quite literally holds us together!
While you may not have heard of ELDOA before today, it has been used by professionals for years. Many pro-athletes use ELDOA as a vital part of maintaining their performance. More and more Olympic athletes are including ELDOA their recovery regimen as well. It can even provide benefits to weekend warriors and those with active lifestyles (like me!). ELDOA complements any type of physical activity or training. Yoga, running, cycling, lifting, CrossFit, hiking… you name it! It brings an extra element of focus and self-therapy to your recovery.
Give it a try!
If you would like to try some of these ELDOA exercises, I suggest trying attending a class. This session is designed to help relieve back pain and calm the nervous system. The optimal time to perform these exercise is post-exercise. When your body is warm you have a chance to remodel the fascia and decompress the joints. Alternatively, you can do it right before bed. It helps your body decompress and relax to aid recovery while you sleep. Either way, you’re bound to see the benefits. So give it a try!