Calm Is A Superpower: Eileen Durfee Talks About Spinal Fitness on the O'SHOW Podcast

Jack O’Hara: Hello, everybody?

Eileen Durfee: Hi. So, we’ve Darnell in.

Jara O’Hara: How’re you doing?

Eileen Durfee: I'm doing good. My name is Eileen.

Jack O'Hara: Nice to meet you, virtually anyway.

Eileen Durfee: Yeah.

Darnell McDonald: Eileen, nice to see you.

Eileen Durfee: Yeah. Nice to see you too.

Darnell McDonald: How are you guys doing?

Eileen Durfee: All right.

Jack O'Hara: So, how do you two know each other? How is, how is, how did we get hooked up with this? What's obviously with what you do Eileen, it's, I definitely see how Darnell is fascinated with everything that there is to do but what's kind of like, how did you guys first meet? How did you guys build that relationship?

Eileen Durfee: We know a guy named Tyler Sobey. And it was through that connection that we, you know, had hooked up. And I sent Darnell one of my near infrared saunas, and then later on, spinal fitness equipment.

Jack O'Hara: Cool. How did you get into this? Like, did you, obviously you have to study this stuff in school but like what kind of set your soul on fire as to why you did this?

Eileen Durfee: Yeah, that's like usually podcast intros for me.

Jack O’Hara: Absolutely.

Eileen Durfee: I was a former nuclear power plant engineer. And I've been sick my whole life, everything from being ripped out with forceps to having twisted hips wearing special shoes, being growing nine inches in three months, being ran over by a car to being a universal reactor meaning becoming allergic to everything I was around. And so, I just couldn't accept, you know, the, you need drugs to suppress these symptoms. And I started my journey for natural healing. And I met Dr. Scherger. He's the one who coined spinal fitness and was the one that worked with the US Olympic team. There was a special team of people to figure out why the athletes with low back curve were stronger, superior in every way. And so, they did a mathematical analysis on it and then actually developed exercises, so people that don't have that can get it and maintain it. And it was used. He worked with Ron O'Neil when he was with the New England Patriots up until his death in 2006. So, yeah, that's kind of the long history of how I got into this. But you know, I went from nuclear power plant, construction to land development, running construction crews. I was building 12 houses a year to managing nonprofit, corporations doing all their financials, going to board meetings. And so, you know, this is just kind of like my fourth life in this life. I am getting to have fun. And now, I have 10 patents in the US alone. I have international patents as well and more in the pending status.

Jack O'Hara: Is that all?

Darnell McDonald: That’s amazing.

Jack O’Hara: Wow!

Darnell McDonald: And I know, you know, you sent me the infrared sauna. Thing is, you know, it’s a game changer. It's a life changer for me. And I think more people should know about these things, right? Like, even, you know, there's times where I don't feel like working out, man. And like, this thing just gets me going and it energizes me. And just, I've always been someone that sweat a lot. I love to sweat. And that thing there has got me where I've been stuck, right? I'm stuck, didn't feel like doing anything. I started getting in there, and it helped me get back in my routine. So, I would like you to talk more about that. But what was the, what was the first thing that you, you said, was it 10 or 11 patents?

Eileen Durfee: I have 10 in the US that have been granted, seven, utility. Those are the ones that are very difficult to get. And then three design patents and five of those patents relate to spinal fitness alone. And I actually have more that I'm going to be filing on spinal fitness there's, you know, and it's crazy, you know. I'm a problem solver and I'm a gadget woman. And, you know, I go to sleep with a problem and I see it. I wake up. You know, I get help. You know, it's like, it's, you know, something that I don't have to really try very hard to accomplish. So -

Darnell McDonald: So, let’s hear. Let's hear more about the spinal fitness. I know we were talking the other day. And I was telling you, you know, in the yogi world, you know not to scare anybody off but the yogis believe like the God is in your spine.

Eileen Durfee: Right. The Kundalini.

Darnell McDonald: It is energy, right? So, you know, let's, I’d love to hear more about the spinal fitness and what you do with the, you know, the rollers and all that stuff.

Eileen Durfee: Right. Well, one of the things that’s not real common knowledge is that, there is actually a preferred or a mechanical shape in gravity that’s superior. So, you cannot change the muscle attachments to your bones. Now, there's a lot of people in all kinds of sports that have tight muscles that are doing all kinds of stretching and everything they can do to gain their flexibility except for the basis, the root of why they get the tight muscles. Now, the Leonardo da Vinci wrote about spinal biomechanics. Then, a man named Borelli in 1680.

Then, it wasn't until Burl Pettibon. He is a type of chiropractor. There's like different sets of chiropractor theories. And he came up with the spinal model that needed to be an S shaped curve to have the most efficient position in gravity. Then, Dr. Scherger, he was a formally trained Pettibon chiropractor. But years before that, I mean, he worked in, you know, bodybuilding, the European gyms, and then he worked out on construction sites where he was aware of rigging with cranes and all kinds of things.

So, he kind of understood physics and lever arms and all that kind of stuff. And so, he started looking at inducing curvature to spine, you know, to the spine, so that when you're at rest, you know, your muscles aren't all tight. So, the basis of spinal fitness is inducing curvature. And, you know, like 99% of all the athletes, all the trainers out there, they're not teaching how to get this S shaped curve. They don't even know that it exists. So, that's, that's the first hurdle. And, you know, in the 1980s and 1990s, Dr. Scherger assembled a team from the US Olympic team in Colorado. There was a guy named Bob Beaton and Jennifer Stone. And then they worked with a guy named Smitty, who is a heavyweight Olympian coach for athletes.

He worked for York barbell for 50 years. So, he's like really into fitness and training. And then Ron O'Neil from the New England Patriots, he was a trainer there for 26 years. So, this team of people got together and started figuring out how to evaluate curvature of players. That's how the New England Patriots got away for not paying very much for excellent players for so many years, because they had the secrets of Dr. Scherger, how to evaluate curvature, because you can have a really talented athlete who's going to be a train wreck and get injured and be no good to your team. You know, because of this, this curvature or lack of it. And then you've got people who have excellent curvature that just need to be tuned up with their, their, you know, game techniques. And so, he would help them pick superior players and then he would help them train players so that they could become the superior athlete.

And so, the low back curve is critical in relation to where your head, your upper body curvature is at. And what this team did is, they actually worked with Cornell University and they compared posture because Dr. Scherger loves football. You know, because when two linemen go head on head, the one who has a low back curve would always overpower the one with the flat back. And so, they actually took the spine in those both positions and then calculated mathematically the shear forces and the compression forces of every joint and the amount of muscle expenditure it took in those positions. And they mathematically proved that the S-shaped curve was stronger to dominate.

So, after they did that, then they mathematically started looking at levers because you know, to induce curvature, it's like if you want to get a suntan, you go out in the sun for so many minutes, and your skin adapts to that. So, we have to put the body in a position where it will adapt. And so that's where physics came in. And he came up with a product called the power cushion. You know, he advised against any kind of regular sit-up. And I wanted to show you, let me get this set up here. I kind of, instead of being at my desk, I came in here so I can demonstrate this a little bit. Here is the spine.

Darnell McDonald: … S curve, like gait. The flight gait or rather S curve gait and so on. So, now we know why the [0:11:27 inaudible] dominated for so long.

Eileen Durfee: Yeah, so, see, you've got to have this curvature where the skull is right over this pelvis. So, this low, this big, swooping low back curve, but also the curve in your neck. This is what ideal curvature is. I mean, almost every spine mannequin. I got a full mannequin. It was impossible to bend it to perfect curvature. That's how little this is known. But like, like a regular sit-up is what I want to explain. But it deals with shear forces. When you have these curves like this, you have the shear force coming back in this direction. And there's these bones, that's bone-on-bone. That, those are facets, the upper and the lower one. And so, gravity is pushing against bone-on-bone. And that's pretty, that's pretty strong. It's like a vise.

It's not the ligament and it's not the multifidus and the inner spinalis to fatigue or tear. But it's interesting. When you lose that low back curve. Like most of us don't have the low back curve. Then, the shear forces reverse, you know going in this direction, and then it creates posterior shear. That's why you don't want to do a regular sit-up because posterior shear. Now it's not bone on bone protection. These can twist, you know. The, the nerves can pinch, the discs can bulge and dislocate. So, what they found out, this team. It's like imagine trying to move a boulder. You know, you'll have this bar, this long bar to get underneath that boulder and then you'll have a block. You know like what Dr. Scherger had was the power cushion, you'll have this block. So, we're going to treat the spine as lever. And we're going to put it so that the hip bones are supported there. And then you're arching over it.

Then you could do a pelvic tilt. So, there's no posterior shear because the cushion puts the spine as if it already had perfect posture. So, you do a pelvic tilt, and then you do a sit-up. So, it's protecting the spine from posterior shear. But what it's doing now, because then you're going to put force, you know, on the hips, you're going to put force on the chest when you do the sit-up. And that's going to actually strengthen muscles you're not working out. It is going to strengthen multifidus and the inner spinalis muscles and in the process of this because you're supported underneath like a train on a train track. You're going to hear your spine pop and vertebrae are gonna like be gently guided into a better location but you're going to be able to simultaneously use muscular co-contraction in a horizontal and a vertical way. And it is going to literally shear bones back into place, because now we're getting that, you know, anterior shear instead of the bad posterior shear. And so, there's three exercises that we do. There's the pelvic tilt, there's the sit-up, and then there's the neck flexion. Now, the neck flexion is just really a simple – actually, I’ll take this off so you can see … exercise.

Darnell McDonald: So, Eileen, so say, Jack wants to work on his S curve. Like how long does it take to develop this S curve. I know when -

Eileen Durfee: Dr. Scherger, Dr. Scherger found that it takes 12 weeks, three to five times a week, doing these exercises and doing them progressively. Meaning that if you have pain doing an exercise, you know, you don't do any more reps. This is not about like, in weightlifting where you know, like you grunt out the last few reps where you just want to get that muscle overloaded. Because this is about therapeutic restorative exercises. So, initially, for like the neck exercise, you would look up to the ceiling. Some people believe it or not, can't even look up there without pain.

So, wherever that position is, you know, just slightly, wherever it is, that's where you stop because it's not about pain. And then you're putting a little bit of resistance, you know, with this device. And then this isn't about pushing forward, trying to, you know, hold weight. Like I've seen some devices online, like the Iron Neck where it’s just like, you know, your isometric, just tightening muscles. This is about chin down. Like if you nod at somebody, if you agree with somebody, that's your C5 in your neck bones. And that's all that is. We're just going to exercise that movement right there. And so, chin up, look up, slight pressure. It's just a rotation chin down

Then, when you are level, you just relax and push back. Now, if you look, if you can see my low back curve, my low back curve increases. It's like, this trains me to put my head over my pelvis to the ideal position in gravity. And so, those are the three exercises Dr. Scherger used to say. It's like flossing and brushing your teeth. You wouldn't eat candy before bed without taking care of those. So, it's the same thing. All of us are like at desks. We're looking on our phone. Gravity is like pounding on us. So, we can just have the Neck Shaper when it says here, your exercise monitor says you know, get up and walk, get up and drink some water, those kinds of things. Just you know, flip out about five or six of those each time you're getting up to move.

It's not a super hard commitment to start restoring the neck flexibility in the neck. And the power cushions, it's kind of like making the light bulb. We're in version 3 now but I think one more version and we'll be ready to go. Dr. Scherger used to teach you know laying over the power cushion with a rolled-up towel through the neck so you could you know arch your neck and you know and do that, do that movement like this. And so, what I've done because that's not real stable is create a cushion with an attached Neck Shaper. See this is, we're going nuts. We're gonna stop that. But basically, you know, you're arching over it, you do like a bridge, and then you, you know exercise this neck and it really works well you know, for strengthening the neck.

The neat thing about the neck flexion is, you normally stand up when you do it. But you can additionally clamp this on any one-inch barbell that you have. So, when you have you know, greater strength, you're gonna want to put weight on this and I just use, this is like a Neck Shaper cushion. That's a whole another set of therapy that we do is, Dr. Scherger taught a spinal twist to change the density of our discs, because normally, they're like hard sponge. So, he wanted to like liquefy them, you know, pumping the blood vessels, pumping nutrients into the spinal discs, and then to lay down with these rolls so that your muscles can relax from the bones. And, and literally when you're laying over these rolls, because they have one’s for the low back, one’s for the neck. Then your muscles release. So, what I do with the neck flexion on like a regular workout bench that people would have. Like, there's a workout bench right there. Let me see if I can get my phone to cooperate here.

Darnell McDonald: Does it have the 30 pounds right there? 25 pounds?

Eileen Durfee: Yeah, that's 20 pounds. You know, that's, that's where I'm at.

Darnell McDonald: So that's an advanced, 20 pounds right there. I can imagine doing it right now. My neck, I’m not snapping off my neck.

Eileen Durfee: Yeah. And you might even be able to hear my neck bones crack as I do this. So, I just stick this underneath here and kind of roll out to the edge. Oh, and this is backwards. Let me put this on backwards. Just a second here. There we go. So, I put that on there. And then I arch over and I am shooting down. Can you hear those bones?

Darnell McDonald: Nope, that's not your bones.

Jack O'Hara: That’s a little too loud to be bones. Isn't it?

Eileen Durfee: Some of it was bones initially. But it like guided my neck bones. From when I was born, my C1, C2, C5, it’s not quite normal, you know. So, I'm always fighting that. And this is like a train on a train track. And yes, my bones crack. But I do this and it aligns and it feels so much better. I was unloading a whole bunch of stuff when the saunas came. There was like 150 sauna tents, 150 lamps. It's just like, we had like two hours to bust this out. So, I was just constantly, you know, lifting all that and that when I got done, it's like my arm, it was like even hurtful to brush my hair. And so, I came here, did this. My neck popped, and then it was all fixed. So, these things help, you know, keep the body in alignment, because you know, whether we're in contact sports or whatever we're doing, you know, we're putting stress on our spines. And so, this is something that really, you know, is helpful. We additionally have another device. Let me grab it here. Everybody -

Darnell McDonald: Tell us about like what athletes that you've worked with, problems that you've seen and like what you know, I know you - a couple of people you brought back that have had serious back problems?

Eileen Durfee: Right, right. Well, I do an evaluation which I'll just, you know, kind of standup – you can move that way, and show you. The first thing I do is, I have them feel their hamstrings. You know, because when you're standing up, they should be completely loose. And I mean, just about every listener is going to have tight hamstrings. That means your structure has got issues. And keep in mind that your body spends tremendous amount of energy keeping your body from falling over in gravity. And so that tightness, that energy expenditure is not available for fast twitch muscle recruitment or stride length. So, it's just like really important to get this S shaped posture. But so, what I do is, I evaluate. I have them touch that. Then, I have them bend over, don't keep by punching the back over, but just bend over and see how far they can touch.

So, for instance, you ask Cheeto, the UFC fighter. When he bent over, he was about that far from touching his fingertips to the ground. After we were done, he was like this. That's like five minutes later, from doing the pelvic tilt in the sit up and the neck flexion. But beyond tightness bending over, I'll have athletes, raise your arms up. A lot of them like, don't have their arms completely straight. And it's because the loss of the neck curve won’t allow their arms to go completely back. So, that tells me about their neck. Then the other thing is, I have them turn their neck to look, to see how far that they can turn their head. And then the other thing is, I will have them actually just jump up. So, if you just jump, do they land in the same spot? Or do they land forward? Or do they land backwards?

Those kinds of things tell us about posture problems. And then I can take five minutes with them and have, do like 10 reps of each. The pelvic tilt, the sit-up, the neck flexion and do it again. I had one guy gain 11 inches in reach. He was so tight before with his low back. I'm having people turn their head two and three inches more one way. They feel like, oh my gosh, I feel lighter. I feel taller. I'm standing up better. You know, and so it's just amazing what that can do. So, so I basically do the same evaluation with everyone. I went up to Boise State and met JL Skinner, he's the safety who's got all the records, you know. For football, I'm sure he's gonna go pro. His low back curve was a 375 hard. I mean, it's just like, awesome. But he still had tight hamstrings and his neck has this weakness.

Man, he could barely turn it like this. I mean, I'm serious. He just couldn't turn his neck. Then after we put the weights, I actually put weight. I think I only put like 20 pounds on him. But then I also have my hands on the bar. So, I was letting him have the full effect of it. But afterwards, he could, he could turn his head like almost three inches more in either direction. And he could just feel a dramatic difference. I've worked with Luke Rockhold. You know, he's going to be fighting July 30, in Texas. And he was told by Joe Rogan to get ahold of a spinal surgeon and, you know, get help for his herniated disk. So, about that time, I met him and I gave him a power cushion and the Back Trac and sized him for rolls and gave him the Neck Shaper. Taught him how to do the exercises. And he completely rehabilitated.

See, what Dr. Scherger and that team with Ron O'Neil from the New England Patriots, they found that if somebody had a herniated disc, or any L4-L5 injury, and they put them on that pelvic tilt, they were able to shear back the bones that had that disc attached to it and eliminate the problem.

Darnell McDonald: Oh, I needed that. Well, 10 years ago, I had an L-5 stress fracture and it's one of the worst injuries I've ever had in my life. Like I felt like I was 70 years old. And no one could figure out what it was for a long time until I went to Dr. Yogam who I think, you know, passed away a while ago, but I wish I would – I wish I would have one of these power cushions.

Eileen Durfee: Yeah. And then there's something very therapeutic that everyone should do because after you play a hard game or before you go to bed, or if you're - any, any pain at all. There's that exercise that I talked about to pump nutrients into the spinal discs and then to change their density so they can be formable. And so, it's really an easy exercise. You just sit on a flat surface, arc that low back even if you don't have one. You know, keep by looking up with your chin, and you put your arms out like this. Then, you lead with your eyes. It's just like in drawing. If you're a draftsman, you look where you want to go, you know. So, you're gonna look with your eyes, and you're going to rotate, and you do that like 30 times looking with the head. And then that is going to cause your spinal discs to change their, their density and become moldable.

And so then, everybody's back is different. That's why we have cushions in five different diameters. Actually, here's a, here's a better straw. There's all the low back. The blue is soft, orange is medium, maroon is hard. So, if you have any pain, and you're not 200 pounds, then you're going to want to start with the soft. If you're, if you don't have pain, and you've pretty good curves, you're going to want to start with the medium. And so basically, you put – let me do it with this guy here. So, one inch above your iliac, you're gonna want to put the low back curve, and then the neck. You're just going to fill up the area. So, the back of your head just touches the ground. We don't want to prop it up, and we don't want it gaping. And then when you relax, what happens is, is your muscles relax, because there's no gravity involved. Then literally, you're gonna hear your bones pop, as the groove guides them into a better location.

Then after 20 minutes, your spinal discs firm back up to that, you know, denser foam consistency. And then when you roll off of there, you're going to feel less tense in your shoulders. You know, you're gonna feel less low back pain. There's a father whose son that was 12 years old, and he had a trampoline accident. He'd been through physical therapy and everything and he was having seizures. So, he came over and I fitted him to the rolls, taught him how to do the back twist. And a month later, the father came back and said, Eileen, he hasn't had a seizure since. He's, he just is so dedicated to using those rolls. And so, when we have our nerves pinched, you know, because of the bones being out of place, and tight muscles, we can have all kinds of things happen.

Another person was actually given a Neck Shaper. He was scheduled for surgery for 10 years. He'd had just neck pain so bad. Nothing would alleviate it. So, he was scheduled for a fusion. And he started using the Neck Shaper. And within two weeks, all of his pain was gone so much so that the surgery was canceled. So, these products, every single one of them, like no matter what athlete I take, or if it's an 80-year-old woman that can barely walk. No matter who it is. I can put them on there and do very few. You know, as few as five, maybe 10 reps of each exercise once. I'm talking five minutes. There's instant progress and improvement.

Darnell McDonald: But you have to keep going, right? You got to stay consistent with the word?

Eileen Durfee: Yes. Yes, you do. Just like, just like anything else. But the thing about back pain because after I got ran over by that car, every breath I took felt like a knife was just pounding in my heart. And you know, it was just a lot of pain. And so, to - he had me laying over towels that were folded with the groove in the middle. And that's what I did. You know, every day I went and got adjusted and then he started having me do small exercises to rehabilitate because, you know, I've got people that have suffered from migraines and just tension in their upper body that lay over the rolls, and like, within a few days, they're not having migraines anymore.

So, it's like, it kind of pushes them to be consistent. And the thing about laying over the rolls, that's, you can multitask. You can read. You could lay in your sauna. You could, you can do so many things. So, that's a super simple one, you know. And if I could just get people to carry around a Neck Shaper by their desk, you know, it's like, how many people get fatigue because of their heads, you know. They just do just a couple of these, you know, and then the pain goes away. It'll sell itself. It's just something new, that people aren't used to, you know, but as far as athletes go, I have these PDF documents where I rewrote a lot of Dr. Scherger’s work.

There's one that says, exercises we recommend and the exercises we, you know, ask you to avoid. And it's because of that posterior shear. So, it's actually reducing your curvature, which puts you in a dangerous position for injury. And Dr. Scherger used to teach, you know, body muscle overload training does not make a strong joint, or the S-shaped curve. So, it's like after you really work on getting your S-shaped curve, then there's some exercises that you can do with proper form, you know, so that you're not damaging your curvature. But there's so many people, including our children in school, who haven't, I mean, until somebody's 18 years old, the, you know, the density or your bones are not developed, the ossification, the size, and the shape. It takes 18 years. Yet, we're putting our children through these repetitive motions and exercises that are causing them not to develop this curvature.

And so, it's like the physics of third lever arm physics, in Dr. Scherger’s work, he proved that the textbooks are wrong, you know, and that we need to induce this curvature. And, you know, it's a mindset change. It's like one of the PDF guys I talked about in depth about why don't do a leg extension or a leg curl. You know, that ACL ligament, you know. As you extend that out, there's no supporting, and then the bones pushing down on it. And ligaments are only meant to stretch a little tiny bit, then they tear. And so, there's other exercises he recommends instead of doing those, and so the player's knees will last longer and they have less injuries on their knees. But yeah, and doing things like you know, where you can let your ribcage float, you know, when you're doing your arms and your pull ups and all that kind of stuff, it's really good.

You know, so there's alternative exercises that you can do to strengthen the muscles. But I'd really like to get people evaluated and when their curves aren't there, teaching how to get the curves. You know, you start off with maybe like I said, You know what, the people that I've evaluated, and these are professional athletes. These are professionals. Like Chito, he was so stiff when I was arching him over the cushion, that he kept on lifting his butt off the ground, because he had no flex. He could only flex maybe like one inch and he was like straight as a board. He's like stocky, strong, powerful, but no flex. And so, I said, it's okay. I don't care. If I only, am putting resistance on you where we're moving an inch, that's where we need to be. And as soon as he did that, I got like five reps in and that's where we got, you know, probably five inches in reach in five minutes.

So, you're gonna start off with very few reps, maybe 5, 10. Then the next time you do that, you know, if you're still feeling resistance to where you're being, you know, challenged with that, you don't increase. You do the same. Maybe you're going to add a second set or third rep or you know, maybe five sets, you know, but then as you feel that you're not being challenged, you might go up maybe five reps. So, it's gonna take a while but the, the ideal goal was to be able to get to 100 sit-ups over the power cushion and a 100 pelvic tilt. The weight stack machine, it's got these long rods that the machine because you lay down on this machine and then it has these long rods. It only had like 100 pounds possible. And so, it wasn't about doing super heavy weight, but it was about being able to do that 100 pounds with 100 reps. And that's what's in the New England Patriot football training room to this day.

There's three of those machines in existence, one in my office, one there and then there's a chiropractor in Hawaii that has one. But the thing about that is, I had a dream because it's like, it's, that machine is not portable and you really need. I'm going to demonstrate how to do a few of these sit-ups and I just use a barbell to get weight because we want to have weight. It's kind of like the weight of the boulder. I'm the lever and then the power cushion is that fulcrum you know. So, we got to have those three components working together to strengthen those muscles to hear back bones, to you know, get those curvatures in there.

Darnell McDonald: You know you're impacting a lot of people's lives. So, we thank you for that.