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Eric Goodman: Resolving Back Pain (LBP 004)

Even though he was considered conventionally “strong” Eric Goodman was a broken down mess at 25 who had major spinal surgery recommended to him. The creation of the Foundation Training is the culmination of figuring out how to heal his injuries and back pain himself using his anatomy and chiropractic training. We talk about our super compressed modern bodies and what that means for us, what the posterior chain is and why rehabilitating its functional strength and integration matters, how outdated our conventional notion of the core is- and what “core” actually means, and how it’s possible that an x-ray of Eric’s spine today would still show a big old mess there, and yet he is pain free.




Show notes:

The major back surgery that was recommended to him at 25. How he used to have the conventionally “strong” body but was so broken down. Foundation Training is the culmination of 8 years of figuring out his back injury himself using his anatomy and chiropractic training.

The spine and hips should the strongest part of your body rather than the spine being the main mover of the body which is what many people are doing these days.

The modern body is super compressed- we are losing the war against gravity terribly. What about the digestive issues, the depression, the mood issues- these are just other forms of compression.

Posterior chain inside jokes ensue.

Defining the posterior chain and why to focus on it in the modern body. The deep front line- the anterior chain is not supporting us and connecting well.

Posterior chain integration is key- most people need their posterior chains to get a lot stronger and a lot longer in order for their lives to get better.

The notion of the core as outdated: A contracted abdomen literally pulls you into a ball- shoulders as well.

When the abdomen lengthens and learns to hold tension the lower back lengthens and learns to hold tension, and the posterior chain then starts to integrate.

Redefining the core- it is the center of your body. This, skeletally, is your pelvis. Your core musculature is anything that supports your pelvis in space.

Next book isn’t just on back pain but on the larger cultural problem of compression.

Trying to get the body back to tensegrity. Foundation Training is pure muscular counterbalance.

How and why simplicity gets overlooked- the bias towards complex procedures.

How an x-ray of his spine today would still show the degeneration, yet he doesn’t have pain. Explaining to people how that’s possible.

He describes his extreme diagnosis.

If you think that you're going to control an injury without addressing the environment around that injury, you're wrong.

The communication between the neurotransmitters in the digestive tract and the neurotransmitters in your brain have a lot to do with how much pain you experience. The body is this infinite web of communication.

Western medicine might be the most important thing in the world when it comes to emergency situations, but it might be the wrong group to give us advice on daily living.

Doctors are groomed to be elitist- they are not arrogant, but they are groomed to believe that the information they have is much more significant than the information coming from others. And they have extremely valuable information, but they are in a system the suffocates them. And they have learned how to fix, not how to prevent.

It's a huge mistake to have to become unhealthy to learn about health. (as doctors do in their grueling medical training)

Self-care is so much more significant to society than healthcare. If patients started realizing their ability to take care of themselves it would free up so much time and energy in our healthcare system.

Eric's current interest in using a slackline to play with balance, and getting really strong and healthy in your core (and everywhere). A link to a good slackline is below in the resources.

Home play!:

Let's all do a founder, shall we? This one is worth getting a good visual of, so please check out Eric's videos below. Be sure to watch both so that you can troubleshoot any common errors. And let me know how it goes! I'm always at brooke [at] liberatedbody [dot] com

Founder video

Founder common mistakes video


Foundation Training

Foundation- the book

Foundation Training DVD

The next book is upcoming between February and April 2015- stay tuned!

Anatomy Trains

Kelly Starrett

Gibbon Slackline

Esther Gokhale: Primal Posture (LBP 003)

Body nerds who delight in an anthropological viewpoint- or who spend a lot of time pondering stuff in primal or paleo terms- are in for a treat. I am so grateful to have had this wonderful conversation with Esther Gokhale. We get into the two main culprits that are contributing to the epidemic of pain and physical erosion in our culture, and how looking to traditional cultures can get us back on track. We also get into some hotly debated topics like why sitting doesn't have to be bad, whether or not our feet are really supposed to be parallel after all, and why a J-spine is more structurally ideal than the S-spine we've all be told is the norm (and, of course, we define what that even means). Plus- why we should all work to make it fashionable to carry things on our heads.




And while you're there please leave a review if you are so inclined. Your input on what you want and what you're into helps me to make the show better. Thank you muchly!!

Show notes:

Esther tells the story of her severe herniation in her lumbar spine in her mid-twenties and how it did not respond to any of the conventional or alternative treatments she tried including a spinal surgery.

She looked especially at techniques that teach you how to use your own body and that look to functional populations. Other people doing things to her had not worked. (See the therapies she looked to in the resources section)

Immersed herself in Aplomb and then started traveling and taking photos and video clips and interviewing people.

She uses photographs because we have a very developed visual cortex- we are naturally mimics. Images help us to put that to use.

Two main culprits in the pain epidemic and physical erosion epidemic: loss of kinesthetic tradition and the fashion industry.

She doesn’t demonize sitting or even being sedentary (in moderation). It’s not that we sit, it’s how.

The  Buddha sat and all the sages. And there’s a reason they sit- when you sit that’s when your brain can be most focused. It allows for deep thinking. When we were scraping hides and making arrows we were sitting. We still need to intersperse it with movement.

There should be also somewhere in your life where you are pushing your boundaries cardiovascularly, strength-wise, etc.

However, it’s very important to sit well- that is critical.

With walking it depends how you walk as well. Walking poorly is not good for you either. How you do it is hugely important.

Bending technique correlates most closely with back health. It is a technique she does not like to introduce to beginners-especially those with back pain- because you have to first go through all the steps to lengthen and strengthen the spine, and to get the femurs in the correct position.

The feet are not meant to be parallel. It encourages internal rotation at the femur. In village cultures and in little kids their feet turn out a little and they have a characteristic kidney bean shaped foot. With that there is a small external rotation in the whole leg.

You don’t want to bend forward with any rounding at the lower back. Many people think they aren’t but at the very low back they are actually rounding some there. She recommends working with a qualified teacher.

The S-shaped spine vs. the J-shaped spine: Just because everyone believes our spines are supposed to be S-shaped doesn’t make it true. It gives rise to a lot of pathology. In a J-spine your bottom is behind you, but above that it’s pretty straight. And this comes from a time when they did not have these back problems. If you look at the fine structures within the spines the J-spine better respects the disc structure.

Head carrying is something we are not doing at all in our culture. We are really missing out from not doing this. If you have to carry on your head it keeps the rest of your spine honest. You get immediate feedback and you have to straighten out.

Putting a small weight on the head is the best way to line things up. It is a very primal experience. All the stabilizers in your neck and spine say, “We know this!” and gear into action. How she is using her head cushion while she returns emails.

In village Africa they are very still in their heads, they use their eyes more.

How to build the proprioception about where your head should be in space.

Taking breaks for movement and how to create habits for new patterns.

What Esther’s working on right now in her own movement practice and work: How not to have a backslide when you are trying to create new movement patterns- especially when you go back out into the world and you get poor input either just by what you see (slumped posture, etc), or poor instruction (in fitness classes, etc.) How to get the whole community on board and change culture.

Home play!

With a light weight can you play with head carrying? Try it while sitting in meditation, while returning emails, or while walking and see if you notice a change in your neck. Please note that it should be directly on the top of you head so that your eyes are looking straight ahead and are not looking slightly up or slightly down.



Some of Esther Gokhale’s pictures of people moving in traditional cultures

Alexander Technique




Weston Price

Esther Gokhale's Ancestral Health Symposium talk

Gokhale head pillow