Here is the full transcript of Foundation Training creator Dr. Eric Goodman’s TEDx Talk presentation on The Unexpected Physical Consequences of Technology at TEDxAmericanRiviera conference.
Listen to the MP3 Audio: Dr. Eric Goodman on The Unexpected Physical Consequences of Technology at TEDxAmericanRiviera
So I believe each and every one of you is completely capable of getting yourselves out of chronic pain, getting yourself stronger than you ever imagined possible. I believe that most of you that are suffering chronic pain or know somebody that is suffering chronic pain is doing so unnecessarily. And I think the way that we react to pain, the way we think of pain is wrong.
We have warning signs that our body tries to tell us. These warning signs come in the form of the very chronic common pains that we have — back pain, hip pain, knee pain, plantar fasciitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, shin splints, the things we get on a daily basis that we really have no idea how to treat it. And because they can’t be treated, they have to be changed. These chronic pains, these ailments, these repetitive stress injuries that we have are more a product of poor movement patterns over time than any other factor.
I want to tell you a little bit about warning signs and what they are usually. The first warning sign a person is going to get is going to be back pain. Your body is going to tell you something is going on. You’re going to go to your doctor. They’re going to say you have a herniation; you have a bulging disc; you have disc degeneration, [after] degeneration. And they’re going to treat the pain; they’re going to teach you how to get rid of the pain instead of listening to exactly what your body is trying to tell you, which is that you’re moving wrong. And the wear and tear from moving wrong eventually leads to a continued expected typical breakdown pattern that most of us go through. In fact, 80% of people in this country alone will experience chronic — not acute — chronic back pain at some point in their lifetime, and that’s absurd. Something is going wrong. There is a fundamental flaw in human movement.
You see, modern conveniences — technology, seats, cars, all of these different things have allowed us to adapt complacently to our lifestyle, to our daily life, to what we do. In a single day, we sit all the time. And these things — these warning signs, these herniation, these bulging discs that we get are nothing more than a roadmap to tell us exactly what is going wrong. And it’s actually, if used properly, when your doctor tells you where this herniation is, when your therapist tells you where this bulging disc is, where this movement pattern breakdown is occurring, all it does is gives you the ability to fix yourself.
You can change your movement pattern. You can, instead of complacently adapting to your daily life, actively adapt the way you want to, the direction you want. You can take control of your pain and you can become stronger than any of you ever imagined possible.
I have a lot of herniation myself. In fact, I have a relatively ironic story of being in chiropractic school and being told that I had to get spine surgery. You can’t do that — you cannot get surgery when you’re in chiropractic school. If you do that, get flogged, you get back to the school, and they’d start beating you. They don’t actually do that.
Actually my chiropractic education is what allows me to understand what I understand about moving. It allows me to help people make the changes they need to make, helping them understand what I understand about movement, and ultimately teaching these people just like you’re capable of getting themselves out of chronic pain and becoming stronger than they ever thought possible.
So what I did for myself, when I was in the pain when I was told I had to have surgery, I used my education. I used this understanding of anatomy, this idea that I had of — well, if I’m breaking down, I’m sitting all day in chiropractic school. I’m then going home and studying and sitting while I study. And even though I’m a large strong athletic guy, my body is weak, my stable structure is not a stable as it’s supposed to be. And when I move, when I use resistance exercises, when I play a sport, my body is going to its built-in movement pattern that has adapted to the wrong movement pattern — a pattern that I would imagine just about every one of you is in.
I’ve taught a lot of people how to move, a lot of different kinds of people and almost every one of them shares this one common denominator, this one thing that will determine whether your life is out of chronic pain, whether your life is relatively pain-free with the exception of bumps bruises and acute injuries. And that one common denominator, that thing is the ability to hinge at your hip joints, keeping the front of your body long instead of bending at your spine keeping the front of your body short, just like you’re sitting. I am watching everybody kind of change their sitting position a little bit here. This is usually what happens. I’m doing fine, no — not me; I don’t move like that, but you do.
In fact, I’ve seen a lot of different kinds of people, and I want to tell you a story of two different extremes that both shared the exact same movement pattern, this common denominator, this inability to hinge properly from the hips instead bending improperly abrasively, angrily at the spine. So when you bend at your spine, it starts this typical pattern of breakdown. It’s the reason you go to a doctor and they try to treat your back pain, they try to treat your knee pain, your ankle pain, your hip pain, your carpal tunnel syndrome, whatever it is, your headaches. But they can’t — they can mask it, they can mask the pain but the pain is not the problem. The problem is movement, and what the pain is telling you is where you’ve gone wrong.
So these two stories that I want to tell you about are two good friends of mine. They started off as clients and ultimately became quite a bit more. One of them is a brilliant, brilliant physicist, somebody that’s had a hand in most of the advances we’ve had in modern technology in the past 30 or 40 years. This is a brain that is capable of breaking down phenomena that none of us can understand, making something out of it and then putting it in a way that we can understand. Yet, he couldn’t understand his body’s own fundamental movement pattern and the breakdown in that movement pattern that was leading to his every-day chronic pain and at 60 plus years old, he was in chronic pain for a very long time. And he had the ability to seek answers from the top people in the world but he was still in chronic pain, because he was seeking help instead of helping himself. He was not actively adapting instead of complacently adapting to the rigors of everyday life of sitting. When you’re a physicist, when you’re an engineer, you sit all the time.
The other person I want to tell you about is a very good friend of mine, one of the top triathletes that has ever been. In fact, this man has won the world’s toughest triathlon twice; that’s a pretty serious beat. This guy runs and bikes and swims and can’t sit down for the life and he hates to sit down, he will not stay still. He also happened to train a number of the top athletes in the world. This is a super athlete. He is not like any of us; he is what all of us that are athletes strive to be. Yet he shared the exact same movement breakdown, the exact same common denominator — this inability to hinge at the hips.
And this ugly thing that happens when you bend forward and put all of that force that should be absorbed at the hips, the butt muscles, the hamstrings, the muscles that are designed to absorb the force of gravity throughout the day, every day of your life, instead of using those you bend at the spine — they bend at their spine and suddenly they had the exact same problem as each other, even though they had completely different lifestyles. And these extremes are what we see sharing and that means that every one of you, most of you know somebody or are currently yourself experiencing this exact same breakdown pattern, this inability to hinge at the hips instead bending at the spine, and again putting into play this very typical expected series of events starting with back pain leading to an eventual overall deterioration of the physical body.
So what can you do about this? What happens when you’re in back pain like this? What can you do? How do you learn? Do you go to yoga and do these things? You learn, you have to understand anatomy a little bit and sometimes when somebody is teaching you about your own body, doesn’t always make all that much sense. It’s kind of like, it’s almost like you’re learning a second language, like something just doesn’t click. You know, you didn’t go to medical school; you didn’t go to chiropractic school; you’re not a physical therapist; you’re not a personal trainer. You’re just somebody that wants to get out of pain. But there’s something that you can do to get started.
I can’t teach you everything I want to today but I can teach you one thing about this common denominator. And because it can be a little bit difficult sometimes to understand this anatomy lingo, this learning about your body, I would like to bring out today’s chief anatomy translator Brian. He’s going to help you guys see what it looks like but ultimately feel what it feels like to move the way your body is designed to. So while he’s coming out, I’d like all of you to stand up, we’re going to get a little active. So go ahead and stand up.
So this is Brian, your anatomy translator today. So what we’re going to show you first before anything else is all I want to do is just kind of open yourself up a little bit. I want you to take two big deep breaths. We’re going to do this slowly. I want each of you to feel this. When you start rolling your shoulders, what I don’t want you to do is roll your shoulders forward. When you roll your shoulders forward you’re going further into that little snail pattern, your head is going to go forward like this and all of a sudden you’re right where I don’t want you to be. So I want you to roll backwards and as you’re rolling your shoulders backwards, I want you to picture this length from the center of your sternum out to the sides of your shoulders expanding, with every breath you take and with every shoulder movement you make.
From here on the next breath, I want you to put your thumbs right at the base of your ribcage. It’s going to be a little harder for some of you to find it but eventually you’ll dig deep enough and get there, I promise. So dig in there a little bit, find somewhere around the bottom rib. And then I want you to put your pinky or ring finger right at the front hip bone. And all you’re doing here is measuring the amount of length you have in the front of your body, because if you don’t have enough length at the front of your body, if you don’t stand tall, if you don’t expand the front of your body, you cannot be strong at the back of your body. And if you can’t be strong at the back of your body, you can’t be strong.
So three more deep breaths, and I want you to keep your thumbs right there, bottom of the ribcage, front of the hip. As you inhale, you’re going to lift, your ribcage is going to lift up, you’re going to feel that distance between the thumb and fingers expand. I want to take two more deep breaths. Every time you inhale you lift and every time you exhale you keep the height that you’ve just gained. This is exaggerated; that’s good.
It’s exaggerated for a reason, he’s doing it right. See, what we’re seeing as you do this is that the back of your body is lengthening. One of the biggest problems that we have, it’s using the muscles as they’re designed to use, it’s keeping the spinal curves, not hyper-extended, not hyperflex but exactly where they’re supposed to be, which is long. And it’s lengthening the front of your body enough to allow the spine to do what it’s supposed to do.
So stay up here, I have you up here for a little while for a reason. Stay in this position. Start to feel what’s happening. Your head should kind of pull back over your shoulders a little bit better. Your shoulders should continue expanding as you continue taking deep breaths. And the most important part here is I want you to learn what it feels like to hinge a little bit. So keeping that length in front of your body, in fact, even exaggerating a little bit more the length in the front of your body, I want you to slowly pull your hips straight back behind, you just kind of stick your butt out, weigh your heels a little bit. Yes, it looks funny I know but I don’t care what it looks like because it feels good. So keep doing it.
So the front of your body is staying long, your weight’s going back to heels, you’re sticking your butt out, and what you’re going to start feeling is a little bit of fatigue at the lower spine. So don’t go from here to here; go from here to here. Pull your butt back. If I’m on stage, sticking like that, you guys can do it just as comfortable.
From here, I want you to take three more deep breaths and I want you to start feeling those lower back muscles begin fatiguing a little bit. What you’re looking for is tension right along the lower spine and if you’re doing this really well, not only will your lower spine be tight but the butt muscles, hamstrings and even the calves are going to start turning on a little bit.
Go ahead and stand up, shake it off a little bit but I’m going to — we’re going to do this one more time. I want you to learn — I want you to feel this. And the second time you do it, it’s going to be better than the first. So that we have those — we know that we want to hit the lower back muscles. We want to hit these muscles called the posterior chain, some of the most important muscles in your body. In fact, the muscles that are designed not only to absorb the force but also to be the strongest chain of muscles in your body. It’s not a butt muscle, it’s not a hamstring or a lower back muscle; it’s a group of muscles that is designed to work together to literally move you through life.
So let’s do that one more time. First, roll the shoulders out a little bit. Couple deep breaths, again from here to here is expanding, your chin is pulling back a little bit. You’re going to start feeling like there’s a little bit less force throughout your body. Once your chest is expanded, take a couple deep breaths and again we’re going to go right into the thumb, at the base of the ribcage, the pinky or ring finger right at that front hip bone.
Three deep breaths, all the way in as you expand the ribcage and lift your torso a little bit. As you breathe out, you’re going to slowly keep that height. Breathe back in expand. Again tight lower back, tight butt muscles, tight hamstrings, start slowly leaning your butt back, keeping the back tight, most importantly keeping this length. Without this length, you cannot move properly. Sit your butt back a little further, try to push another couple inches than you did last time. What I want you to do is actually take your hands off of the front of your body, keep the length and just put your arms straight back behind you. And as the arms go back behind you, again open up; turn your hands out to the sides with thumb come out, you’re going to feel an increased extension, increased tension at the lower spine, the upper back is going to start taking in and you’re going to start feeling wide. You guys got about 10 more seconds or so in this position. I can see the joy in all of your faces. You’re welcome; every one of you.
So this is what it feels like to weigh your body properly, and I know it feels awkward at first. But I’ve worked with people that cannot get better. I do it on a daily basis and I see people that cannot get better, get better very fast. Stay better and continue improving and I believe with all confidence that every single one of you is able to get yourself better, get yourself feeling better out of chronic pain, stronger than you can ever imagined possible. You guys can do it. There’s no question about it.
Thanks a lot for participating. Thanks guys. Thank you. Good work!