Foundation Training for Back Pain Relief and General Fitness

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November 06, 2016 | 284,184 views

Story at-a-glance

  • The Foundation Training protocol involves simple yet powerful structural movements that help strengthen and realign your body posture, thereby alleviating many chronic pain issues, including low back pain
  • Foundation Training focuses on your core and training your posterior chain muscles to work together through integrated chains of movement
  • Decompression breathing can be added to just about any exercise or daily activity. These breathing exercises help re-educate the muscles surrounding your axial skeleton to be in a state of expansion rather than contraction

By Dr. Mercola

Dr. Eric Goodman is the creator of Foundation Training, a highly effective protocol. Foundation Training focuses on body weight exercises that integrate as many muscles as possible to strengthen and elongate your core and posterior chain — which includes all the muscles that connect to your pelvis, whether above or below it — thereby alleviating many chronic pain issues.

The protocol has evolved over the years, and I've interviewed Goodman twice before, in 2013 and the most recent two years ago in 2014, covering various updates.

In this interview, he delves into some of the details covered in his latest book, "True to Form: How to Use Foundation Training for Sustained Pain Relief and Everyday Fitness." 

Goodman, who is trained as a chiropractor, is a pioneer in the world of structural biomechanics. His program teaches you to optimize your posture, thereby decreasing bodily pain and your risk of exercise injury.

"The idea is really simple. Our body is made to help itself. As long as we can get the muscles to align it properly, our breathing patterns to align properly, our pelvic muscles to be more stabilized, our posture will involuntarily become stronger," he explains.

"My education is in chiropractic. I'm licensed in Colorado and California, but I only really see patients if they need an adjustment for some reason that they can't do the poses."

Why Foundation Training?

While in chiropractic school, Goodman developed severe low back pain. His doctors suggested surgery, which he wisely rejected. Instead, his own pain set him on the path of discovering a long-term solution, which ultimately resulted in Foundation Training.

"My passive care was good. I was getting chiropractic care. I was being stretched. I was being massaged and worked on. But I wasn't strengthening my spine myself. That's the difference that I made," he explains.

"I don't think that I will ever negate chiropractic, because I love chiropractic. I love the ability and capacity to align the body, align the nervous system and create a very good environment for different process to occur.

[But] if you're going to get your neck adjusted, I want your neck to stay long and strong afterwards, because that's what's going to stop you from having that same adjustment again a week later."

While obsessively studying anatomy, alignment and exercise in an effort to resolve his back pain, Goodman began to notice that he, and many other people who were in pain, could not move the way the body was designed to move, and this was causing a degenerative effect — and those who were moving properly were able to regenerate and increase strength, while reducing injury and pain.

"I was in chiropractic school. I really understood the body well. I decided that this is going to become an obsession. I'm going to figure this out. I can't become a doctor, have patients come to me that are asking for my advice on an injury that I have that I can't fix. It's not OK.

So, over the course of about four years, I did that. I became very obsessed. I used my anatomy knowledge. I used my understanding of exercise.

I was a personal trainer actually long before a chiropractor. Foundation Training is what I came up with. It's what I do for myself every single day, and it's what I've been extraordinarily fortunate to teach to thousands of people at this point."

The secret to Foundation Training lies in its simplicity: no gyms, no specialized equipment and no complicated stretches. By incorporating a series of powerful movements into your daily routine, you can move better, breathe better and get back to using your body the way nature intended. 

Addressing Back Pain

Low back pain is a very common problem, and the most common reason why people seek out Foundation Training. In the video below, Goodman demonstrates a back extension exercise that is particularly helpful for back pain relief.

The premise is simple. By strengthening the muscles in your back, they will keep your spine properly braced through all the movements you do as you go about your day-to-day life.

Overall, about 7 out of 10 people who learn Foundation Training do so to address back pain, 2 out of 10 seek to improve their sports performance and the remaining 10 percent typically seek to address knee pain, neck pain, jaw pain, plantar fasciitis, carpal tunnel and other chronic pain.

One important aspect of Foundation Training is what Goodman refers to as compression breathing. With his breathing protocol, you literally re-educate the muscles surrounding your axial skeleton, the spine of your rib cage, teaching them to be in a state of expansion rather than contraction. You'll find a demonstration of this technique in the video above, followed by another founder exercise.

"[This breathing technique] is something that's always going to set our work aside from everything else. Not better. Not worse. Different. It's an accessory," Goodman says.

"Decompression breathing, which can be taken and applied to any movement, any exercise, any activity … will do more for your spine, more for your chest and neck, more for your dowager's hump … than anything else I can possibly teach you. The unique thing about it is our specific protocol of learning how to engage the diaphragm more appropriately by drastically strengthening the muscles that surround the rib cage."

Here's a quick summary of the compression breathing exercise demonstrated above:

More Information

You have many options when it comes to learning Foundation Training. You can start by reading through or listening to my previous interviews with Goodman, "How Foundation Training Can Help You Maximize Strength and Freedom of Movement" and "New and Revised Foundation Training Exercises Add Even Greater Health Benefits."

For free video demonstrations and tutorials, be sure to check out and the free videos they have available at their site. For even more in-depth information, pick up Goodman's latest book, "True to Form: How to Use Foundation Training for Sustained Pain Relief and Everyday Fitness." Join Foundation Training Connect or check out their free resources at

Just remember, the key is to actually DO the exercises. Just reading about them or watching a video will do you no good. The good news is, even if you're wheel-chair bound, you can perform the compression breathing exercises, which will, at bare minimum, help you breathe better.

"I have a friend that is [in a wheelchair] and we do some of those workouts. He's a very good guy from Oklahoma City, but had a very tragic accident. I really hope I get to spend some more time with that guy and see what we can do just based on breathing," Goodman says.