GFSH Issue #15: My #1 Tip for Relieving or Preventing Back Problems
Chances are that you or a family member have back pain or some musculo-skeletal problem like neck aches, headaches, shoulder pain, stiffness, etc., and the fatigue that goes along with it.
I’m going to teach you a simple sitting routine in this short email that is the first step toward freeing yourself from those problems.
Have you ever wondered why people in traditional cultures who carry heavy loads on their heads, babies on their backs and do manual labor all day, bending and lifting, generally don’t mess up their backs and get all kinds of musculo-skeletal injuries? Sure, nutrition, emotional health and other factors enter in..
But a major factor is posture. Not “exercise.”
And most of what we learn about how to achieve good posture is wrong!
Esther Gokhale (pronounced go-clay), a biochemist, acupuncturist and yoga instructor, observed what it was about the posture of ancient Greeks, native people, and pre-school age kids, that gave them their pain-free ease of movement. She teaches how to achieve that posture that provides strength and protects the spine, all without force, without going to the gym, but with simple corrections you can do during your daily activities.
Here is the first lesson:
This is a gentle stretch which decompresses the spinal discs, stretches the muscles out and encourages good circuation, and can make sitting at the computer actually a healthy activity!
- Sit in a chair with a straight back, like your office chair. Sit straight, all the way back in the chair.
- Now bend your upper body forward a bit and curve your rib cage. You can do this by first arching your back a bit, and then doing the opposite, not so you’re hunched over but just curved a bit.
- Grasp onto the sides of the chair with your hands, or the edge of the seat, and push down on it, until you feel your back slightly elongating. This gives your back a gentle traction that relieves pressure.
- Now staying elongated, release your hands and lean back again so your back is “glued” to the back rest, maintaining the slight traction in a relaxed, comfortable way.
- Bring your head back into a natural alignment. Don’t get hung up on correct position, just feel it.
- Now do shoulder rolls - one at a time, roll each shoulder a bit forward, up, over, back, and down to a comfortable position further back than it was before.
And now you’ve learned how to sit! Sitting this way won’t cause problems for your spine, and will help to alleviate any existing problems. Let me know how it goes!
Good chiropractic or acupuncture treatment can be a helpful adjunct to the Gokhale method, so if you have a significant problem, consider getting professional support. But a little may go a longer way.
P.S. To learn more, check out my article Native Wisdom for Modern Spines, which includes a video presentation given by Esther Gokhale.