8 Steps to a Pain-Free Back
Esther Gokhale, LAc
Pendo Press, 2008
Back pain is yet another malady that is more common in industrialized countries than elsewhere. We blame the pain on several things— standing upright, sitting too much, being too lazy, exercising too much, stress, excess weight, excess height, and excess age. As is often the case, we are wrong. Some of these things may well be factors but the real cause is poor posture.
Gokhale goes on to explain what normal posture used to look like in this country and still does look like in much of the rest of the world, especially Africa and South America. There are many pictures to illustrate. Once again traditional or “primitive” cultures can teach modern Americans a thing or two about basic health. She also expounds on reasons why our posture is all wrong now. Those reasons include a disconnect from the wisdom of previous generations and the influence of the fashion industry. Poor posture can be further propagated by badly designed furniture. I think the observations of Dr. Raymond Silkman (Winter 2005/Spring 2006) are also relevant but not mentioned in this book. He explains how poor nutrition can lead to poor skeletal development which can lead to poor posture. That, however, is not the main point of this book.
There are many advantages to correct posture. Standing, sitting and moving properly reduce the likelihood of degenerative arthritis, improve circulation, improve breathing and lung capacity and make you less prone to injury. Chronic pain issues may go away, not just in your back but hips and other joints. Organ function in general may improve. In many cases where conventional medicine can only suggest surgery and drugs, which often don’t work, simple posture improvement often makes those medical procedures unnecessary.
What follows are detailed instructions on how to sit, stand, walk, bend over and even lie down. Many of these things take no extra time, just development of new habits. Simple but different ways of sitting and lying down can be very therapeutic. Again, all of these instructions are demonstrated and illustrated with a lot of pictures. The pictures show not only how a person with good posture looks on the outside but what is going on inside with the spine and why you want to maintain that shape for your spine. The posture of my thumb for this book is UP.
This article appeared in Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the Healing Arts, the quarterly magazine of the Weston A. Price Foundation, Summer 2012.