Friday, August 20, 2010

8 Steps to a Pain-Free Back

I received a beautiful book in the mail today by author Esther Gokhale entitled 8 Steps to a Pain-Free Back: Natural Posture Solutions for Pain in the Back, Neck, Shoulder, Hip, Knee, and Foot. I wrote recently about having computer-related back pain so the arrival of this book was very timely.

The first thing I noticed about the book is that it is very beautifully laid out with very large pictures and examples of exercises. In addition, there are interesting images of people from various cultures to give examples of proper posture. Gokhale also uses her own kids to demonstrate how children often start out in the world with decent posture. Sadly, like in my case, it's downhill from there.

According to some of the publicity material I received, Gokhale developed an anthropological-based method for pain based on observations of people with low back pain. The Method teaches people how to sit, bend and lie the way our ancestors and other culture with low incidences of back pain do. Okay, this sounded a bit "gobbledygook" and new-agey to me but I have often found that new-agey in terms of dealing with pain relief often works.

I tried some of the exercises in the book which show how to sit, stand, bend and walk correctly and was pleasantly surprised that they seemed to ease some of the stiffness of the computer. The exercises with bands (that I already had in the house) were most helpful and stretched my legs out and felt great! I very much recommend the book if you spend too much time on the computer. If nothing else, the photography and illustrations make this book worthwhile on their own.



Blogger TPO Kahuna said...

Sounds strikingly close to a form of yoga called Kentro Body Balance. My wife studied it, and there are two main sources in the US: Jean Couch at the Balance Center in Palo Alto, and Angelika Thusius who has a book The Secret Pleasures of Posture. As an engineer, I was impressed by the structural integrity of the positions, and especially the research which based it on the postures of peoples who have very few postural problems.

6:27 AM, August 21, 2010  
Blogger Michael Gold said...

Dr. Smith: It's not "new-agey."

Esther Gokhale has established her ideas based on *inductive*, *integrated* reasoning -- i.e., science. She is in the tradition of Aristotle, Galileo, and Newton -- *not* alchemy and astrology.

Ester is also in the solid, rational, objective tradition of Dr. Hoffman (who studied feet) and Dr. Weston Price.

Modern "science" is often not science anymore -- it's rationalistic guessing and jumping to conclusions.

10:28 PM, August 21, 2010  
Blogger Michael Gold said...

Dr. Smith: BTW, I am going by what Ester Gokhale says in this very good lecture:

and by what I have heard some people say about her -- and from neither source have I heard anything about new-agey stuff.

I have not read her book. Yet.

11:16 PM, August 21, 2010  
Blogger TPO Kahuna said...

The root of the Body Balance art comes from a woman in Paris, Noel Perez. One of her main students... for years... was Angelika Thusius. From things I find on the web [] apparently Esther Gokhale studied under Perez for years too, and Jean Couch studied under Perez for a year. Couch studied under Thusius for some time. Couch had independent cache with the yoga world from a running book she had written prior to her learning Body Balance. Now they have all written books (Couch has a video). (BTW, my wife studied to be a Kentro trainer under Thusius, took lessons from Couch, and took a seminar from Perez. She recalls she met Gokhale around the time of the Perez seminar.)

2:54 AM, August 22, 2010  
Blogger Michael Gold said...

Dr. S: And what is it that makes you think Gokhale is "new-agey"?

11:32 AM, August 22, 2010  
Blogger Robert Ayers said...

After my back injury (broken T12 vertebrae) I looked at the Gokhale book, along with several others. I subscribe to the "take ideas from many" theory. But the single best piece of advice I received was from my PT, who said "Raise your computer monitor until you are looking straight ahead at it". That is MUCH higher than most people's computer setups.

9:48 PM, August 24, 2010  
Blogger Hodge said...

Interesting. This will definitely go on my to-read list.
After a lower back disc problem in the 80’s, I followed a physical therapist’s advice began a core muscle strength program. Later, I tried Pilates and things got much better. That led to yoga, which I’ve been practicing several years.

Also had generalized hip pain off and on for a few years. I’m a shrink, but not a Freudian, so I was quite (pleasantly) surprised when John Sarno’s (The Mindbody Prescription) program worked for that.

Finally, I turned up the intensity of exercise after reading Younger Next Year.

Of course placebo and our general tendency to get well and return to our natural state may have had a wee hand in all this, but well into my 60’s, I feel as good or better than ever.

In the case of tech OD and sitting too long in the same chair/position, probably the best thing is to is to change it up. New chairs, padded seats (I got one with a tailbone cutout), more frequent walking/standing breaks, etc.

And, within reason, an occasional adult beverage out on the deck, away from the iphone/bbery, can do wonders.

10:37 PM, August 24, 2010  
Blogger Dr.Alistair said...

after years of sore backs and tight hamstrings, i started kettlebell training along with powercleans and deadlifts, and found that very quickly my lower back issues disappeared.

we are not designed for office life bio-mechanically and so must move in ahtletic ways to allow our nervous systems and muscles and skeletons to stop feeding back pain signals.

and moving the computer screen up to head level makes sense...and not sitting in front of it for hours at a time either.

and we store stress in our bodies at the ideo-motor level (unconscious) and so we need to un stress with intensity.


certainly intense physical exercise is good.

i saw a punching system sold on tv recently promoted by mma fighters that would allow a person a substantial cathartic physical/mental combination workout that could become intense enough to unstore stress.

either that or punching the boss full in the face.....

1:23 PM, August 26, 2010  

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