Back Pain Training

Movements for a pain-free life

Foundation Training : how I overcame chronic back pain

Foundation Training founder

If, like me, you’ve been crippled by acute, long-lasting back pain, possibly shooting down your buttock, thigh, calf and/or foot, I have big news for you :  you can, and will, get back to your normal life.

I did …  Even though I thought I never would.

2 years ago, I was hit hard by a L5-S1 disc herniation and pinched nerve.   It was the most intense, debilitating, long-lasting pain I’ve ever experienced.

For more than 3 months, the pain kept me from standing, sleeping, walking, working and even eating right.

I experienced the hopelessness and desperation that comes with being stuck in life with such overwhelming chronic suffering.

After weeks of begging, researching, and experimenting, I stumbled upon Foundation Training, a bodyweight exercise program that both saved and changed my life.

It was hard for me to believe that, after months of agonizing, life-wrenching pain, after trying all kinds of medications and treatments, simple isometric exercises would cure my back.

But it did. And for good.

Magic ? No. The program taught me how to correctly use my muscles and joints in everyday movements and postures.

I completely re-learned to lean, bend, reach, and lift, by using my core muscles instead of my spine.

Doing so addressed the real causes of my chronic pain (more about this).  It also prevented it from happening again.

As early as one week after starting the exercises, I was already seeing a positive impact on my pain.  And a few weeks later, I was getting back to my normal life. 

Today, 2 years later, I can say I’m completely pain-free. And, I’m back to playing my favorite sports.

I believe everyone with chronic back pain should know about it. Dozens of chronic pain sufferers before me have experienced it successfully.  

Yet, few in-depth reviews of the program are available as of this writing. So I’ve decided to create one. In this post, I will share my personal experience and knowledge of Foundation Training. 

Disclaimer : I’m NOT a doctor, physical therapist, or medical-related professional – nor is anyone in my family. I’m just a 40-something guy who went through sciatica hell and fought back through research and experimentation. I just wish I’d known about Foundation Training sooner, e.g. before my disc slipped.

P.S : I can’t say for sure whether Foundation Training is for you, all I can say is it worked miracles for me.  If you have, like I did, sciatica, disc herniation,  bulged discs, pinched nerve, spinal stenosis, acute pain in butt / thigh / leg / heel – but no leg weakness or groin disorders – then you should look into it. 

This review will be broken down in 2 parts :

POST-RECOVERY UPDATE: in addition to the exercises I describe below, I’ve invested in an inversion table, which greatly complements the FT decompression movements, giving me a nice feeling of weightlessness and relieving the pressure on my back whenever I feel it again. I typically invert 10-20 minutes daily and no more than about 60º.  After researching the table I chose is the Ironman Gravity with Airsoft ankle holders (Amazon link). Not the cheapest but it’s heavy duty, super comfortable, and the ankle holders are worth the difference, no strain on my feet and ankle.

For those new to disc problems, gravity compresses your spine and makes your vertebrae squeeze and eventually push out your degenerating disc. An inversion table lets you get into a reversed position with your head down, reducing spinal compression.     

Part 1 : addressing the root cause

Imbalance Foundation Training

Typically, when we get into chronic pain, as a result of sciatica, slipped disc, disc degeneration, or whatever, we mainly address the symptoms. 

So we take painkillers, anti-inflammatories, injections, ultrasounds, or even undertake surgery.

But what are the actual causes of our chronic pain ? What’s triggering these nasty injuries most of us go through at one point or another in life ?

According to Dr. Eric Goodman, creator of Foundation Training, in the majority of cases, bad postures and movement patterns, and the body imbalances they create, are the root cause of pain.

Now with all the talk about imbalances these days, I have to admit it was initially a fuzzy concept for me.

What do they mean by “imbalances” ? How do you fix that ? Is it a yin and yang kind of thing ?

The FT videos include a few short lectures that explain in a concrete way what these imbalances are. 

Since I don’t know much about human anatomy and biomechanics, I initially skipped these videos and jumped straight to the exercises. 

I found the first movements to be so immediately effective, however, that I got intrigued and went back to watch the lectures.

Based on what I ‘ve learned from the program, the following are the most common causes of chronics back pain :

Let’s look briefly at each of them.

 

Incorrect use of the posterior muscle chain

Most of us rely primarily on our skeletal system to execute daily life movements, such as pulling, lifting or bending.

Instead, we should execute these movements by hinging at the hips.  This is the single most important principle I’ve learned in FT.  More on that in Part 2 where we discuss some key exercises.

Hinging at the hips correctly puts the load of gravity force on our posterior muscle chain, which includes the large muscles around the hips, the glute (butt) muscles, the hamstrings, the adductors, and the lower back muscles.

If you don’t correctly engage your posterior chain, the burden of these movements falls upon your spine, which is a very bad thing.

Over time, your body compensates and adapts to these bad positions, which typically leads to imbalances and chronic pain.

Case in point :

As a regular stand up paddler, I used to stand on my board for hours on end with my spine bent forward while my arms and shoulders were pulling hard on that paddle.  A perfect recipe for causing strain on my spine and pressure on my discs.

Trust me, you don’t need to be a stand up surfer to achieve this type of scary result.  Bending forward, pulling or lifting something the wrong way will get you there just as fast !

 

Rotational imbalance of the hips

If you’re like most people, you may have externally rotated hips, with your hips, knees and feet turned outward apart from one another in a “duck stance”.

Constant sitting worsens this rotational pattern.  When you sit for long periods, your pelvis opens up with your hips and thigh bones pushed outward. The pelvis also pushes forward in a tucked in position. 

Over time this leads to the ball and socket parts of your hip joints misaligning, potentially creating friction and chronic hip issues.

Foundation Training tucked in pelvis

Outward rotation also results in certain leg muscles shortening, potentially pressing on nerves and triggering sciatica and knee problems. Meanwhile, other leg muscles lengthen, creating other chronic issues.

Sitting is a modern life disaster. As Celia Storey puts it : “sitting compresses the spine, shrinks the chest, flattens the lumbar curve, tucks the pelvis and shortens hamstrings, sinks ribs into the waist.”

As an information worker, I’ve spent years sitting in front of a computer with my back most often slouched.

Over time, my posture has led to a weakened spine and strong hip imbalances, opening the way for disc bulges and sciatica.

Little did I know …

 

Internal rotation of the shoulders

Besides externally rotated hips, another very common imbalance identified by Dr. Goodman is internal rotation of the shoulders. 

Your chest and shoulders are turned inward and pushed down, with the arms positioned in front of your body.

Foundation Training internally rotated shoulders

Here again, over time such bad posture can prevent your shoulder joints from functioning normally, as the parts that make up the joint are not correctly aligned.

The shoulders need to be rotated back out and lifted up (see Part 2).

So to recap, incorrect posture and movements are very often the root cause of chronic pain.  It certainly was in my case. 

FT claims 3 main culprits  – bending at the spine, externally rotated hips, and internally rotated shoulders, are responsible for most imbalances, injuries, and chronic pain.

Next, let’s see how these issues can be solved so we can start getting rid of pain.

 
 

Part 2 : building blocks of Foundation Training

Foundation Training building blocks


So as discussed earlier, Foundation Training educates our body on adopting good posture and good movement pattern, through simple bodyweight and isometric (static holds) exercises.

By following these exercises, we can self-correct these dangerous imbalances that often lead to chronic back pain. 

In my case, not only did the exercises make my chronic pain go away, but they have kept it at bay ever since (of course I keep doing them on a regular basis).

The exercises revolve around three fundamental concepts :

You can tell from this list that these 3 principles are closely associated with the root causes we’ve identified.  

I have been practicing Foundation Training for 2 years now, and so I have experienced these concepts and techniques first hand.

Let’s start with decompression breathing, which involves breathing wide and high to make space in our upper body.

 

Decompression breathing

Everyone has kind of heard breathing can play an important role in healing.  If you want to see the breathing process in action, check out this cool short video.

In Foundation Training, breathing is a full blown exercise, not just a side thing.  Being new to this, I’ve discovered that, through breathing, I can actually decompress my spine.

What counts is not the flow of air in and out, but the muscles involved in the process.

Decompression breathing involves expanding and elevating your rib cage up away from your hips. Doing this, you lengthen your back and reduce compression in your spine, increasing the distance between your vertebrae.

Remember, frequent spine flexion is a major cause of chronic back pain, as it leads to compression and subsequent injuries such as disc bulges and herniation.

So lengthening the back through upward and outward breathing really helps releasing that compression tension.

I breathe in deeply, focusing on filling my lungs with air, widening my ribcage and pushing it up as high as I can, and out as wide as possible.

Here’s the trick however : my chest needs to stay elevated even when I exhale even though the natural breathing pattern is for my rib cage to lower back down on expiring.

The only way to maintain my rib cage expanded and elevated on exhale is to tighten my abdomen muscles.

It comes naturally : if I just focus on keeping my chest up on exhale, I find myself automatically tightening my abs and lower back muscles, “pulling in my belly button”.

[Foundation Training decompression breathing

If you’ve been dealing with back pain treatments for a while, you may have heard the phrase “pull in your belly button” many times before. 

Personally, I’d never tried it before, and I was wary at first because I felt activating those inner muscles might stir up the pain in my lower body.

After some cautious testing, however, I could verify it was safe for me to do.  I was actually amazed by the amount of tension this creates in the core, feeling fatigue in some inner muscles I never knew existed.

Learning decompression breathing wasn’t easy at first.  But with some practice with the videos, the exercise started to sink in and I ended up “sucking in my belly button” pretty deep.

Unlike the DVDs which include a single video specifically on breathing, the Core Elements version has a full activity, about 10 videos, dedicated to breathing and the related practice of anchoring (which I’ll discuss next).

UPDATE : FT has now moved to a subscription-based model so apparently the above  link for getting the DVDs on their site no longer works.  However, it seems the DVDs are still available on Amazon here (personally I prefer a one-time payment to a subscription).

In my post detailing my personal story, I mentioned that, 3 months into the pain from my disc herniation, I had purchased a pull-up bar to allow myself to hang for my spine to decompress. 

Doing so had led to the very first subtle sign in months of my pain bottoming up.  Guess what though ? I’ve found decompression breathing to be even more effective than hanging off a bar. 

It works from the inside out by pushing out my chest through lung inflation, instead of just letting external gravity pull down my lower body. 

That gives me full control over what’s happening.  My core muscles are the ones doing the leg work, not gravity.

In addition, decompression breathing :

  • can be done whenever, wherever, near whomever, standing or lying down
  • doesn’t put a strain on my hands, arms and shoulders like hanging off a bar
  • strongly engages my core muscles, over time strengthening my abs and lower back

I had always been quite skeptical about the effectiveness of internal static exercises such as breathing and inner core contracting.  Foundation Training has proven me wrong on that one.

Anchoring

It took me some time to figure out what anchoring really was about – I actually worked through all of the videos in the initial Foundation Training DVDs without paying much attention to anchoring or understanding its real purpose.

Things have become much clearer after working my way through the Core Elements videos (UPDATE: no longer available on FT’s site, if you don’t want to buy a subscription, you can still get the DVDs through Amazon). 

Anchoring is complementary to decompression breathing : while breathing makes you expand and push the torso up away from the hips, anchoring pulls your lower body downward, i.e. in the opposite direction.

Foundation Training anchoring

Such pull in the lower body is obtained by contracting the muscles that run from our pelvis down to our feet.

An effective way to do it is to pull your feet towards each other while in standing position, like you’re trying to shrink the ground, but without actually letting your legs and knees move in.

Foundation Training anchoring

This way, you generate strong tension on the inside face of your legs, calves and feet.

Another alternative is to push your feet outward as if trying to expand the ground, again without letting your feet and knees actually move apart. You can feel the tensioning in the external muscles of your hips and legs.

In both cases, the tension you create in your lower body acts as a downward anchoring force opposite the upward push from decompression breathing.

This opposition works to decompress your spine and stabilize your core muscles.

Decompression breathing with body anchoring, i.e. the videos in Activity 1 of Core Elements , greatly helps me release any tension in my spine and lower back.  (UPDATE: DVDs on Amazon)

But sit tight – or should I say, stand tall – we’re just getting started, 

Hip hinging

If I had to pick a single takeaway I learned from the program, that would be hinging at the hips, aka using my hips as the primary hinge when moving my body.

As you know by now, Foundation Training’s central tenet is that chronic back pain often has its source in the way we get our spine to perform work our hips should be doing. 

This means we shift the burden of the move onto our skeletal system instead of our muscle system.

Following my disc injury, I had to completely re-learn the correct movement patterns for  “pulling, reaching, lifting, folding”.  My patterns for executing these movements were flawed, and over time that’s what triggered my slipped disc.

In everyday life, you constantly need to lean forward, e.g. for grabbing something.  Repeatedly bending at the spine means an eventual death sentence for your back.

I’ve realized that, since childhood, I have been immersed in erroneous fitness patterns involving spine bending, such as stretching by touching my feet, or doing crunches with my back rounded. 

It all seemed to work just fine, until that fatal snap.

Since I started learning about all this, it really hurts me to see healthy people abusing their back like I used to – everyone from kids playing or working out, to people stretching before running, to professionals on their job – dentists, accountants, gardeners – bending in scary ways.

A bad back is a serious handicap in daily life. But here’s a bold statement : learning to hinge at the hips is the first step in permanently overcoming my handicap – I know because I’ve been there.

Hinging is Foundation Training’s most central and fundamental pattern. It goes hand in hand with decompression breathing. Almost all exercises and workouts include decompression and hinging.

The Founder is the primary exercise for learning hinging. In the Founder, you first start by decompressing your body through breathing and anchoring.

Once your spine is long, you push your hips backwards and you shift your weight into your heels to load your posterior muscle chain. You unlock your knees slightly.

Initially your arms are extended backwards. You then bring your arms forward, counterbalancing the backward shift in your hips.

The key to the exercise is to really shift your weight into your heels – I try lifting my toes up a bit to make sure – and your hips far enough back so your knees are positioned behind your heels.

Foundation Training knees behind heels

The first time I tried to do the Founder, I was still feeling disturbing chronic pain in my buttock, thigh and leg. I had only recently recovered the ability to stand up straight (see my previous post for all the gory details of my disc herniation).

My condition allowed me to perform the decompression breathing, as well as gently shift my hips back with my arms extended backwards. However, I wasn’t capable of subsequently bringing my arms forward and up, as that triggered sharp pain in my leg.

So I initially settled for a “light” version of the Founder – there’s a video for it in the DVDs – using a chair in front of me to rest my hands on.

By offloading the burden of supporting my arms extended out in front of me, the tension in my posterior chain diminished, and hence the pain.  That made the exercise feasible for me.

Foundation Training Founder with prop

After a few days of training my posterior muscle chain in this manner, I graduated to being able to do the normal Founder (without a prop).

Hip hinges are incredible. They made me discover a whole new world of moving my body safely and with confidence – something I had completely lost after over 3 months of uninterrupted pain.

Even before bringing my arms forward, getting into the Founder gives me an intense stretch and activation of my hamstrings, glutes, lower back, and the other muscles all the way down to my calves and heels.

It feels like I’m stretching along the path of my sciatica nerve, which is a great soothing feeling.

The simultaneous decompression breathing further tensions my lower back muscles, as I contract my abdominal muscles to keep my rib cage elevated.

From this position, bringing my arms forward and lifting them waist high, then chest high, then diagonally above my head, increases the tension and stretching in my lower, mid, and upper back. My whole posterior chain is now stretched and braced.

Foundation Training deep founder

When I was getting started, the more I did the exercise, the more confident I felt about it being safe.  Doing it repeatedly over a few days already had an encouraging impact on my chronic pain.

Externally rotating the shoulders

As discussed in Part 1, internally rotated shoulders is another very common cause of imbalance potentially leading to chronic pain.  Learning to correct this bad posture is essential.

As a kid, I often held my shoulders low and turned inward.  I realized I’ve been holding this same shoulder posture as an adult, namely when sitting at work.

Having your shoulders turned inward limits the breathing space for your rib cage and creates potential misalignment and friction in the shoulder joint.

Holding the shoulders low also encourages the upper spine to slouch and the ribs to sink into the waist.

External rotation of the shoulders is one of the easier and more pleasant exercises for me. It starts by simply extending my arms backwards with my elbows and wrists slightly bent, opening and stretching the top of my chest as much as possible.

Then, I open my shoulders outwards, by rotating the palms of my hands toward the exterior, not just at the wrist but involving the whole arm.

Foundation Training

When doing this exercise, I try to consciously open everything wide, from my fingers, palms, elbows, shoulders, to my upper chest.

Initially, I had a tendency to push my shoulder blades back together. That’s not a correct way to do it, the goal is to rotate out the shoulder joints. The best way I found to avoid this flaw is to maintain my elbows a couple inches away from my torso.

Foundation Training elbows away from torso

The videos in Activity 3, which covers shoulder imbalances, demonstrate doing quick sets of inward / outward rotations back and forth.  These really helped me get the hang of the movement, feeling the stretch at the back of my shoulders and at the top of my chest.

Arm tracing

Another  key exercise for correcting internal rotation of the shoulders is arm tracing.

It involves lifting your elbows while sliding your thumbs up along your torso from your hips to your armpits, then joining your hands behind your neck, and finally raising them diagonally above your head.

Foundation Training arms tracing
Foundation Training arms tracing
Foundation Training arms tracing
Foundation Training arms tracing

This is another one of Foundation Training’s suprisingly effective moves, seemingly simple but with great biomechanical impact.

Tracing my thumbs up, in combination with continuous decompression breathing, really forces me to open up my shoulders and chest.  This is particularly true when lifting my hands from under my armpits to join them behind my neck.

Everytime I do this move, I get a nice feeling of my upper body opening up and stretching out, and my shoulders getting into place while my rib cage expands from my elbows lifting up.

Hip huggers and platter hands

The Core Elements videos also introduce two new powerul postures for correcting shoulder rotation, which weren’t in the initial DVDs : hip huggers and platter hands.  (UPDATE: Amazon DVDs)

Both are done in conjunction with standing decompression and/or the Founder position.

The hip hugger involves tensioning your hands wide open (like in external shoulder rotations) and pressing the external face of your hands against your hips, with your elbows slightly bent and joined together.

Foundation Training arms tracing

The server platter posture involves pressing your hands, forearms and elbows together in front of your torso, your hands tensioned wide open with the palms facing up and parallel to the floor.

Foundation Training arms tracing

These exercises don’t involve external rotation of the shoulders, but they have a very stabilizing effect.  Holding these isometric positions while decompressing gives me a nice feeling of my upper body moving into place.

Quick note : over the past few weeks I’ve been feeling recurring pain in between my shoulder blades, probably due to a strained rhomboid from excessive paddling with incorrect shoulder position.

Doing the external shoulder rotation, hip hugger and platter exercises has a positive impact on my upper body pain – although I know I need to change my paddling habits to eliminate the cause.

Internal hip rotations

As discussed earlier, external rotation of the hip can lead to improper alignment and friction in the hip joint, shortening / lengthening of some leg muscles, possible causing pain issues in the hip, sciatica, knee, and feet.

Foundation Training addresses these imbalances through conscious internal rotation of the hips.  Core Elements Activity 4 includes the internally rotated Founder and the leg trace exercise.

The internal Founder is just a Founder with your feet pigeon-toed, that is, your toes are closer together than your heels, forming a slight triangle with your feet.

Foundation Training internal founder

Once the hips are internally rotated in this manner, follow the same process as a normal Founder : decompression breathing, hinging at the hips, arms forward and up.

While the regular Founder gives you a good stretch in the hamstrings, the internal Founder stretches your Iliotibial (IT) band – the muscle on the outside of the hip that makes the leg move outward.

To me, the internal Founder doesn’t feel so natural. Since little, I’m cursed with an internally rotated left hip – which, according to Foundation Training, is the opposite of most people. As a result, my feet tend to turn inward when I walk.

This has caused me hip issues over the years, somewhat hindering my ability to run long distances. I never did anything to correct it, and I suspect this issue might have been an additional factor to my disc injury, in addition to bad postural habits.

In one of the videos, Dr. Goodman does mention the internal Founder takes a bit of getting used to.  I’ll keep working on it and see how it goes.

Leg tracing is done lying on your back (supine) with your legs extended. Then you internally rotate your right leg and press your right heel against your left ankle, while flexing your right toes towards you.

Next, like for arm tracing, you slide your right heel up your left tibia and knee. Once your heel is above your knee, you press your left hand against your right knee to create resistance. Then you switch legs.

foundation Training leg tracing

As usual, the tracing movement is coupled to decompression breathing and anchoring. To me, leg tracing has a softer and less aggressive impact on my hips than an internal founder. I can feel it helps stabilize my hip joint and strengthen some of the muscles around it. 

Takeaways

Well, hopefully, after reading this article you now have an idea of how Foundation Training has helped me cure my back pain by correcting major flaws in my postural and movement patterns. 

The rapid and impressive improvements I observed in my overall health and well-being served as proof that FT’s claims were correct.

By fundamentally modifying the way I move and my basic body positions, I effectively eliminated the causes of my chronic pain, and thus the pain itself.

In this article I only touched on Foundation Traning’s most basic principles and techniques.  Stay tuned as I cover some more of the many aspects of the program in subsequent posts. 

UPDATE: the Core Elements DVDs can no longer be bought on the FT site as they moved to a subscription model, but if you prefer a one-time purchase they’re still up for sale on Amazon here

40 Comments

  1. thank you for putting so much effort and thought in this site. It was really helpful to me as I am just at the point of deciding between PT and surgery for S1 nerve root compression, reading this I’ll give the Foundation training route more time. Great work

    • Team BackPainTraining

      March 18, 2018 at 11:29 am

      Hi Bruce, glad you found the post useful. Yes, unless you have loss of feeling in parts of your body (e.g. “drop foot”) or serious symptoms like bladder issues, I would definitely give PT a real shot. Surgery may sometimes look like a quicker and effortless option, but in my (non-doctor) view, unless it’s urgently needed to stop permanent nerve damage (when symptoms like the above are present) it will not address the root biomechanical causes of the problem. I hope you get better soon ! Yanis

  2. Thanks for this article. It’s one of the best so far and describes the exercises better than most. Please share more of the other FT poses in details!

    • Team BackPainTraining

      July 27, 2018 at 12:36 am

      Hey Jason, thanks for the good works. I’d be happy to write more but I’m not sure how much detail I can disclose since FT sells memberships for accessing their how-to videos

  3. Hi, great website that really gives me some hope.
    How many times a day should you doing the hip hinge (founder) for?

    Thanks

    • Team BackPainTraining

      October 21, 2018 at 11:03 am

      If you’re in a lot of pain, you can try to do 4-5 minute sessions a couple of times a day if it’s bearable. If you’re not in accute pain you can do it as many times as you want, I do it brushing my teeth or shaving, and as my stretching routine before a workout. I may also try to get up and do a founder after sitting for a long while – though I now ALWAYS sit and NEVER rest my back on my chair, as if I were sitting on a stool all the time. I do a founder when standing on a beach etc. There are also a lot of other exercises besides the founder, so I alternate every day in a round-robin fashion, starting again from scratch when I’m through all of them. I don’t do the ones tha require lying on the floor as often because they’re not as practical. Wish I could just share the videos but obviously I’m not allowed to do that. They now moved to a subscription-based model which is not my cup of tea, but I just noticed they still have the Core Elements DVD on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2S7nPpL. These DVDs are gold, I bought them and copied the videos onto my phone so they go everywhere I go. If you try the founder and it works for you (I’m pretty sure it will from everything I’ve seen) then consider getting the DVDs for the other exercises, def worth the $150.

  4. AWESOME! I love reading these success stories, thanks for all the details and links! I’ve been working my butt off since Jan 1, 2018, where I hit the pool after an awful lumber herniation in December 2017. Changed everything for me, but smart training (love me some medicine balls, cables, bands, more laps in the pool!), PT, researching, eating right, sleep, and mental health changes got me back to where I could train for the things I love (besides the gym): surfing, ice hockey and soon: snowboarding. ALWAYS mindful of my posture, or sitting too long, and walking / core work everyday.

    • Team BackPainTraining

      December 3, 2018 at 5:14 pm

      Way to go Paul! About posture and sitting, I do have to sit all day for my work but I always sit up straight and never rest my back on the chair, like I’m sitting on a stool. It forces me to keep my core tight and back straight to avoid slouching. Works like a charm for me, hard at first but then it becomes really natural, it’s like a permanent static workout.
      Aside from the FT movements, I also use TRX daily for back muscle strengthening.

  5. Paul, I really appreciate you sharing you story regarding your back issues and recovery. I am just recovering from L5S1 discectomy . The surgery was successful for the relief of severe nerve pain and numbness but still have the back pain which was expected. I am committed to trying Foundation but my one question is regarding my posture for work. I assist surgeons in surgery all day. So I am standing , hinged at the hips / for hours at a time . I try to keep my knees slightly bent and try to contract my core but I lose focus because I need to focus on the surgery . I also need to stand on multiple stools just to see to assist so I am rarely having good posture for these hours. Any suggestions other than doing some quick foundation moves I between cases?

    • Team BackPainTraining

      February 13, 2019 at 5:10 pm

      Hi Theresa,
      I don’t have experience with undergoing surgery and recovering from it since I didn’t have to go through it for my injury. Also, my main posture nowadays issue is sitting in a chair all day at work, which I guess is very different from having to stand and lean for hours on end. So unfortunately, I can’t really help based on experience. All I can say is that, if I had to stand and lean all day, I would probably work on adopting a posture similar to that of the founder, which would probably be quite hard at first until you build up and stretch those deep lower back, core, and glute muscles. I would try to keep my weight in my heels and hinge my hip backward as much as possible to induce a nice stretch in my hamstrings and keep my lumbar muscles braced most of the time. This would help ensure that my core muscles support my posture instead of my spine and intervertebral muscles. I’d try to maintain that posture for as long as possible to educate my body until it becomes second nature. I actually try to do this every time I need to lean for anything – of course, it’s never an all-day thing so not sure if it would really work out. I would initially try it a few times during the day so long as you don’t feel any pain (other than perhaps some sore muscles). Again, take this with a grain of salt as I’m not a health professional, just sharing my own experience. I wish you the very best luck, you got this!

  6. Hi this is Cristy,
    Thank your for this information. I’m suffer for a 8months of sciatica, i’ll been to therapy for 3 times but still no relief of the pain. My doctor told me stop exercise/stretching if i feel pain, so i stop everything and become more worst the pain. Even night time i woke up due to pain, I used only hot compress as a remedies to relax my muscles. I become so frustrate of this pain because i cant focus properly with my job, there is time i plan to end my life. You know what pain it is, from your lower back go down to my thigh front and back, go down to calf and foot so disturbing me a lot to walk. Thanks for this information this monthly February 2019 I found this articles, i never stop searching what medicine, exercises and food can help to cure this one, because it already affect my body from 60 it down to 52 due frustration and stress, it gone my appetite to eat. Praise God after reading this one it gives me hope, i stop taking medicine doctor prescribe me, i eat a lot of fruits and follow all exercises especially the hanging my body, I try for 1 week i don’t know how to explain my happiness im thinking this is miracle. i never feel the pain anymore in my thigh going down. So relax my feeling, now i still continue this so that it will heal totally. Still i have little pain in my lower back only. Thank you so much!

    • Team BackPainTraining

      February 22, 2019 at 8:55 am

      Hey Cristy. I’m sooo happy my experience is helping you overcome sciatica hell! Your situation sounds very similar to mine, though in my case I was NOT able to walk except bent in half (like you I also lost 8 kg from not eating due to pain). Hanging off a bar was the right first step for me as it helped release the pressure from the vertebrae on the bulged disc. The fact that your pain now centers in the lower back I believe is a good sign, centering the pain is exactly what the McKenzie method, for example, aims for at first. Once you’re able to move relatively painless, do the Foundation Training exercises to retrain your body to engage your posterior muscle chain. The exercises will progressively strengthen your deep core muscles (lumbar, abs, glutes, psoas, hamstrings) and give back to your joints the mobility they need to avoid relying on your spine for basic movements. Start with the standing decompression and Founder exercises and work your way through the program. I’m still doing FT almost on a daily basis 3.5 years after my injury, it keeps me healthy. Best of luck!

  7. Hello, I am Vedant from India,suffering from L5 L4 disc herniation, compressed nerve, I am unable to walk like a normal person, the pain is shooting to (my left leg ) Basically, starting from my left hip till the
    kneee of my left foot,Including left thigh.
    I went through ozone therapy, had injections injected in my spine, it decreased the pain by 30% but I still have pain while standing and walking, I am 21 years of age, I am suffering from this pain from last 3 months, Doctors have suggested spine surgery, I am devastated by this disorder, please help me, I went to several doctors in my country, but everyone tells me surgery. please help.

    • Team BackPainTraining

      March 31, 2019 at 11:35 am

      Hi Vedant, sorry I’m not a doctor so I can’t really help you. All I can say is that if your pain only goes down to your knee, you’re in better shape than I was since in my case I also had some numbness in my left foot. In my experience, the pain lasted more than 3 months, until I started doing the Foundation Training exercises. Personally, I didn’t want to have surgery since I didn’t have things like drop foot or bowel syndrome so I figured my nerve was not really being threatened. A doctor will be better qualified to judge, though in my case I found some doctors tend to recommend surgery because they don’t know any better or because that’s what they do for a living. My advice to you is, try doing Foundation Training (see my post on it), just make sure to stop if you feel real pain. That and changing my sitting habits is what cured me! Best of luck

  8. Please help me out Sir, I am in great pain and mental pressure.

    • GALO SERRANO-ABAD

      September 15, 2020 at 10:37 pm

      Hi Vedant, I was suffering the same thing like you, I can’t stay on my feets for 10 seconds was terrible, but now I’m like new my doctor want to spinal surgery but I don’t want I already read a lot of reviews of the spinal surgery and I think are a good option for me… I was checking in YouTube a guy who has the same problem I he recovered with yoga and the basically he did all of the exercises in this web page and let me tell you my pain was from 100% to 10% right now…. I’m available to walk even run and do a lot things I just try to make my lower back muscles super strongs right now because I never want to suffer again this pain, my muscles getting weak because I was studying and sit-down for longer periods of time just studying, and one day I lift something very heavy I the pain was the worst in my life. Be strong in your mind im 39 years old and was passing a divorce in this time November 2019, before in February of 2020 my doctor want surgery thanks God the Covid19 make me avoid the surgery because with the pain I don’t care nothing just the pain go away…. my pain was all way down my leg and toes, the butt was the most painful but I’m still alive I fighting.

      God bless you and recovery soon.

  9. These are the most helpful back movements and exercises I have found. I am in my 3rd round of pain with a lumbar disc herniation and finally, here is something that actually is completely true and makes a difference. Thank you!

    • Team BackPainTraining

      May 13, 2019 at 4:20 pm

      Hey Leah, thanks for the positive feedback, I’m really glad this helped! It’s really my true story and indeed the only thing that worked for me. Like I said, FT saved my life and fixed me up for good – no more back pain to this day, almost 4 years after my disc slip. Remember also to change your posture if you sit for hours at work. I never ever rest my back against my chair anymore – I could just as well be sitting on a stool. My too miracle components!

  10. Stumbled upon your website this morning over a coffee. I bought Eric goodman’s Book and plan on trying foundations training soon. I had PRP injections around my lower back (no real improvement yet a few weeks in) and FY will be my last resort before seeking a surgical repair for my annular year at L4/L5. I’ve had psoas tightness which stretching that had provided some relief for standing. My mental issue is that I miss surfing, boating, fly fishing and playing in the yard with my kids. I have ongoing back pain for years now but used my own core workouts and stretching to get back to surfing finally then BAM.. over Labor Day last year i was surfing and by the time I got back to my home about 45 min from the beach I was in so much intense pain in my lower back radiating around my hips it was like a shock wave hitting me. Since then for months basically I feel like my back has “turned off” and I have like zero stability. Walking a lot or sitting a lot flares things up more and leave some in pain. I have canceled fly fishing trips out west with my dad which is sad and am staring at a new surfboard in my basement I am fearful will never be used again. Afraid to go from “kinda ok” to I can’t even focus at work rule of pain.
    The dr doing the prp injections in the surrounding muscles and ligaments said my MRI showed an annular tear. No other issues and no sciatica ever. What are your thoughts based on my story? Do you surf still?

    • Team BackPainTraining

      May 25, 2019 at 6:59 pm

      Hey Nick, before anything, just a friendly reminder I’m not a doctor, just a guy with disc herniation. TBH I don’t know much about annular tear, I just looked it up here. Judging from the article, it appears to generally result from disc compression and herniation. If that’s the case, your case is similar to mine! Now here’s my short answer: yes I avidly surf, paddlesurf, kitesurf, and skateboard on a weekly basis, generally more freely than before my herniation. Once in a while, especially in colder water, I do feel a bit of stiffness or a little soreness in my hip. Whenever that happens, I do a Foundation Training session and everything goes back to normal. Really, no BS. I also try to work out on a nearly daily basis, including planks and squats as I find these greatly strengthen my back in addition to FT. My advice to you is buy the FT DVD or get an online subscription and do their program religiously. If do it seriously and consistently, I’m pretty sure you’ll be back on your board within a few weeks! The decompression and the posterior chain activation and strengthening you’ll achieve will help push your disc back into place – that’s what it did to me. You’ll still have that weakness (like me you’ve had it for years anyway) but you’ll be able to control it and it won’t get in the way of your sports. Also make sure you maintain good posture at all times – as I’m typing right now I’m sitting with my back straight without resting it on my chair, forcing my core muscle to stay engaged. I’ve been using this position at work for the last 4 years, it’s a key component to staying healthy. Hope this helps!

  11. Hi there. I have two bulging & torn (not yet herniated) discs (L3-4 & L4-5) as the result of a bad fall (thanks, negligent nurse). I had already torn the TA muscle off the pubic bone before the fall happened, so the aftermath was really bad: the aforementioned disc damage, subsequent facet joint pain, chronically unstable SI joints, and both hips’ labrums torn. I had to have surgery to reattach the abdominal muscle and repair the hips, but I’m still struggling with chronic LBP that, according to diagnostic procedures, is coming from both of the SIJs, both of the damaged discs, and the facet joints around the damaged discs. Would the Foundation Training program work for someone whose injuries are the result of direct trauma, rather than years of bad use patterns? Would any of the Foundation Training exercises have to be modified for unstable SIJs? I’ve tried the hip hinge exercise, for example, and it flares up my back, probably because of the stress it puts on the SIJs. Thanks in advance, and it’s okay if you don’t have answers; even my physiatrist calls me a “complex case.”

    • Team BackPainTraining

      October 21, 2019 at 9:26 am

      Hey Jaycee, really sorry for your injury man! yeah this is definitely beyond my personal experience, TBH I have no idea if FT would be a good fit for you. If anything I would be wary of doing anything that generates pain! You may want to send a line to Dr. Goodman from FT (here’s their contact page) and ask him what kind of moves would be appropriate. I hope you find the right path, I know how it feels to be injured. Take care!

    • Hi Jaycee, did you get any help doing the FT with SIJ instability? I have Sacrum problems and have had pain with the founder. Thanks

      • Team BackPainTraining

        August 31, 2020 at 9:18 am

        Hi, no didn’t really get any help from a FT to be honest – where I was located there were no valid FTs. If you have access to a good one it’s probably the best start. I know the founder is not for every situation, if it gives you pain, you should really avoid it as it can actually make things worse. Best of luck, hope you get better quickly.

  12. Hi,

    Thanks for sharing your success story. It’s great to hear that it’s possible to overcome disc herniation, sciatica, and back pain.

    I’ve had similar symptoms for the past 4 months, L5-S1 disc herniation, back/hip pain with sciatica running down my right leg all the way to my toes.

    I’ve tried working with TMS (mind body syndrome), acupuncture, chiropractic care, physical therapy, and now my doctor wants me to get a steroid injection.

    I want to avoid anything invasive so I’ve just been treating the pain with anti-inflammatory medication, icing, tiger balm, and caffeine (it helps for some reason).

    It’s been getting to the point where I just want the injection to get temporary relief, to get some semblance of my life back.

    I stumbled upon the foundation exercises through a friend and I’ve been doing the basic workouts for the past few days.

    As I write this, it’s 5am and I’m on the floor with a lot of pain/swelling in my hip area which has been typical for me but this time it feels worse.

    I feel like I was doing the exercises correctly since it felt good while I was doing them, felt the good workout type of burning in my posterior chain.

    Is it typical for these symptoms to feel worse after initially doing the workouts? Do they go away with time while continuing to do the workouts?

    I’m hoping that this is just my body reacting to something good for me and is just an indication of the foundation training starting to make a difference, working out the weak points of my posterior chain.

    Thanks,
    James

    • Team BackPainTraining

      October 21, 2019 at 5:17 pm

      Hey James,

      I feel your pain, been through this and I know how desperate and powerless one can feel being unable to go about one’s normal life and activities and endure pain day after day after day for weeks! Based on my experience and many others, though, it will all go away eventually, the only question is when! sure feels like forever!

      Please remember I’m not a doctor or even a health sector worker, just a guy who wanted to share his herniation experience.

      One thing I want to say is that the FT exercises have never caused me major pain or swelling. If that’s the case for you, perhaps they’re not well-suited for your situation. Before FT, I tried many other exercises that did increase my pain, but I stopped doing them right away. In my view, pain is not an indication that the exercises are making a positive difference (as in no pain no gain), I think it’s just the opposite. When I in pain and did the exercises, they made me feel better, not worse, both during and after the workout.

      Something I noticed during my injury is that doing these workouts early in the morning did not work for me, because my hips and joints were just too stiff and painful. I was only able to do them in the afternoon or evenings when my body was looser. Perhaps you could try different hours of the day.

      The other thing is, I NEVER tried to force anything on my body, I would stop as soon as the pain increased. Initially, all I was able to do is push my hips backward slightly with my arms extended behind me – the very first part of the Founder exercise. I couldn’t even do the second part which involves raising my arms parallel to the floor with my hands in a sphere of tension – let alone lifting my arms above my head. That was just too painful. Hinging at the hip slightly with my arms back was as much as I could take, so I stuck with that for a while and it did me good.

      In parallel, I tried to do gentle squats supporting myself with my hands on a door handle – squats helped me gain back some hip and lower back flexibility which helped me do the Founder a bit easier.

      Hanging off a bar was also something I did during the initial phase when the pain and stiffness were still strong, to help decompress. I had to support myself partially with my feet though.

      I didn’t even try anything during the first weeks after my disc slip simply because it was too painful. If you’re still experiencing strong pain, I would suggest you either wait a bit longer or move extremely slowly, in tiny steps. Any increase in pain may make things worse. If FT gives you more pain, I would suggest stopping.

      Take it slow and you will feel better, you just need patience. Eventually you’ll find the right moves for you, just be sure to take it real slow! that’s how I did it and it worked.

      • Thanks for your reply!

        I should add that I would do the exercises in the afternoon and evening as well since I found the mornings to be too difficult. So to clarify, I awoke with the pain I was describing previously. I didn’t feel it right after the exercises. In fact, I’ve been feeling pretty good right after doing the foundation exercises.

        What I was trying to ask is if having pain the next day is normal when it comes to the foundation exercises. I never try to push myself if I’m feeling a lot of pain in a particular exercise. I can tolerate a little bit of pain in order to complete and exercise but I never push myself too far.

        I recently (past two weeks) have been dealing with pain while sleeping which hasn’t happened before the in the past four months that I’ve been dealing with this herniation. The pain wakes me up sooner than I would like to wake up. Do you have any experience with this?

        • Team BackPainTraining

          October 22, 2019 at 9:18 am

          I had a lot of pain keeping me up every night during the first months – had to take sleeping pills at night for a while because I was so sleep-deprived. The pills seemed to relax my muscles as well. Wouldn’t recommend taking them without a doctor’s advice though, as those can be harmful. But once I started doing the FT exercises a couple months in, I can’t say it ever made my pain worse at night, if anything it improved things for me. Otherwise I would have stopped doing the exercises, and wouldn’t have raved about them that much – still doing them 5 five years after healing. Perhaps you should try stopping the exercises for a couple of days and see if the night situation improves? Herniations are not created equal, some discs slip backward, forward, sideways… I suppose decompression breathing should be beneficial for any herniation type though, perhaps you could limit yourself to that for a few days and see what happens? Just my 2 cents

  13. Hi
    This is extremely informative thank you.
    I’ve just started foundation training this week after dealing with a L5/S1 bulge for months. Hoping this will solve some of my issues.
    How many minutes a day did you practice foundation training??
    I’ve tried the founder and can’t get anywhere near the torso angle you can get. Could you or did it take time to get a decent hinge angle??

    Thanks

    • Team BackPainTraining

      August 30, 2020 at 11:19 am

      Hello, initially I was doing short 10 minute sessions to avoid reviving the pain. After a short while I increased my session duration by doing several videos in a row.
      If you can’t push your hips back a lot don’t force it. When I started I couldn’t even lift my arms in front of me, so I kept them along my torso for a while. I also rested my hands on a chair in front of me to support myself, and progressively tried to reduce the leaning on the chair. You should find the video that shows you how to do that (for people who are still in pain).
      Even a slight angle with your arms back will help, just do what you can at first and slowly add to it each day. You should feel a subtle stretch along your posterior chain. Whatever you do though, don’t do anything that causes pain, I found that’s always a bad thing. Should make you feel better, including right away – not worse.
      All the best!

  14. hello Team, had been practicing foundation training for past few months. It helped me a lot from the sciatica and improved the pain. i had been doing decompression breathing and anchored back extensions as well. However, my back muscles became stiff and am having to undergo cupping therapy to release some of that tension in the mid back muscles. How do we remedy this situation through foundation training ?

  15. I have right side SIJ dysfunction and found a youtube video that tackles this using FT as one of the exercises. I just started yesterday and will give it a try.
    Here’s the link: https://youtu.be/SxEMqDGNBUs
    In another video where Dr Eric Goodman explains remedy for SIJ:
    https://youtu.be/_b_Yvv3v_jc

  16. I believe FT helped me get through a long bout with a disc herniation. I (unfortunately) was never pain free and despite very purposeful and consistent participation in a daily 12 minute FT routine over a period months, my condition did not resolve itself and I continued to have pain. Fast forward several more months, I did opt to have an L4-L5 microdiscectomy and laminectomy to decompress the pressure on those nerve roots. For the first time in 19 months I am free from numbness, tingling, sciatic nerve pain, and towards the end, some frustrating and strange bouts with bladder incontinence that I am told was a result of the nerve compression. As soon. As I am able, I will begin a very modified version of FT and gradually work my way back to full-strength. I believe it will be very important to continue with those FT principles in order to maintain my back pain free life and avoid relapse. Although my story included going under the knife, I believe that the foundation training I did while injured help to prevent my situation from going from bad to debilitating. I was still able to work and take care of my family. I am really looking forward to being able to get back to the gym, playing some ball and living pain free!

    • Team BackPainTraining

      January 16, 2021 at 7:24 pm

      Hi Tyler, thanks for sharing your experience. You went through this ordeal with a lot of courage it seems, where others would have given up. Respect! I’m really glad you reached the end of the tunnel, with such determination I’m confident you’ll get back to a normal pain-free life via a regular and patient training routine to build up your strength and flexibility. All the best

  17. Excellent article. Thank you. Looking for a personal trainer using the foundation Method.

  18. Gm I’m Laurie, I have been suffering from sciatica for the past month, had to stop working , I just bought the videos and am ready . I prayed that God would lead me to my healing and here I am. Thank you for your information

    • Team BackPainTraining

      August 27, 2021 at 9:22 am

      Hi Laurie, I’m really happy you’re feeling better. FT did work wonders for hundreds of people. All the best to you

  19. I have known of FT for some time. The fact that you took the time to post your experience in great detail is really very helpful. Have been in physio for 8 mths for low back pain. Time to try FT.

    Just bought Core Elements DVD set on their website for $50 US + shipping 🙂

    • Team BackPainTraining

      October 21, 2021 at 8:54 am

      Hi Josefa, thanks for sharing. Hope you get better fast, if you’re like me for sure FT will help a LOT.
      All the best

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

© 2022 Back Pain Training

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑