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8 Steps to a Pain-Free Back

What structure are you building into your body? Can you be a better steward of your body? Easy to understand concepts for a pain free back.

While vacationing in Hawaii, I spent many hours watching different people of all ages walking along the beach. I noticed a variety of ways each body supported itself in an upright standing position. Do posture habits, or the way we carry ourselves throughout the day, contribute to whether we have a pain-free back?   

 

Forward Head/Rounded Shoulders

forward flexed walkingA common theme of the beach walkers stance was a forward head, rounded shoulders and a torso that was bent forward.  This particular posture seemed to be projecting an attitude that life was hard or they were carrying a heavy backpack.  The sitting position is one of the culprits that contribute to this habit.  Looking at our hand-held devices and the forward head position is another causative factor.


 

Rib Thruster/Military Posture

Another posture habit that I saw was holding the chest upright by hyperextending the upper back. The pelvis was tilted anteriorly with a low back sway.  With the shoulders held back, neck extended and face looking upward, it is as if they were “at attention” in the military. Many people actually think that this is “good posture,” when in reality, they are just hinging in the mid-spine to create the illusion of an upright posture.

Interestingly, in the younger age set, the habits were present but they still had fluidity of movement. The older adults’ postures were more pronounced, and their movements were stiff as if the posture habits were embedded in their bones.


Upright PostureGood standing posture

And then, just like a refreshing breeze, an occasional person walked by with their head balanced on top of their spine, shoulders, hips, and ankles all vertically aligned.  Their walking cadence had a fluid effortlessness.  The attitude projected was one of confidence and ease.

 

Can your Body Serve you Better?

When you are suffering from back or neck pain, headaches, or migraines, often the natural tendency is to find a therapist to “fix’ the problem and get rid of the pain. This is an important part of the approach, but as a physical therapist, I propose that providing only symptomatic relief of pain is short-sighted. After your therapy session, you may feel more balanced with less pain but then you return to automatic patterns of movement and posture. The mechanical forces that caused the pain are still present, slowly embedding themselves into your posture.

 

8 Steps to a Pain-Free Back

book_cover 8 Steps to a Pain-Free Back , by Esther Gokhale, is a user-friendly look at posture and movement re-education. The author, who had suffered from lumbar disc herniation and surgery, has traveled to other cultures where there is a low incidence of low back pain in an attempt to study and learn how they stand and move. Her book is beautifully illustrated and helps the reader learn new ways of standing, sitting, walking, bending, and even how to carry a baby to encourage the development of healthy spinal alignment in the child.


 

Posture Awareness

Our culture does not spend much time training our children in good posture habits or body awareness. We develop our posture habits and patterns of movement quite subconsciously by observing how our parents stand and move. The first step in mindful movement is awareness. So let’s start with re-learning how to sit.

How To Sit

1) Sit on your Sit bones. (Imagine you have a tail; make sure it is sticking out behind you.)


2) Anchor your ribs (Tucking them in just a little which aligns the ribcage over the pelvis.) This step is particularly important if your ribs are thrusted open in front.

Esther Gokhale 3) Reach up and over an imaginary Bar at shoulder height. (This engages your inner corset.)

4) Roll one shoulder up, back and down. Then do the other shoulder. Make sure you do not pull your shoulder blades back or thrust your ribs out. You are just “ratcheting” the shoulder joint to a new position.

5) Imagine a String that is attached to the back of your head exerting an upward force, lifting it up to the sky.

Here is a mnemonic I created to remember the steps. SABRS (pronounced sabers).

S: Sit bones

A: Anchor your ribs

B: Bar (reach over)

R: Roll shoulders

S: String lifting the head

Learn more about Posture and Movement

brianbeforeandafter


8 Steps to a Pain-Free Back is book that offers a new look at posture and movement and challenges a lot of the current posture concepts. Gokhale’s book is easy to read, beautifully illustrated, and offers easy steps to implementing a new way of understanding posture and movement. These include sitting (including a concept called stretch sitting), standing, lying, walking, and bending. The end result is a long term remedy for back pain.
As seen in the before and after photo (20 years) of Esther Gokhale’s husband, positive change is possible. Our skeletal system is built by the forces acting on it. So I ask you again, what structure are you building into your body? Can you be a better steward of your body? I have utilized the concepts personally and in my practice and found this book to be a very effective resource for postural re-education and relief of back pain.


Author: Mary Falk, PT


Bottom two photo credits: Esther Gokhale


Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. I Cor. 6:19-20




In the spirit of full disclosure, this is an affiliate link, which means that I may get a commission if you decide to purchase this book from amazon.com. I only recommend products & systems that I use and love myself, so I know you’ll be in good hands.


Categories: Back Pain, Posture
Post by Mary Falk PT on December 12, 2013

8 Steps to a Pain-Free Back

What structure are you building into your body? Can you be a better steward of your body? Easy to understand concepts for a pain free back.

While vacationing in Hawaii, I spent many hours watching different people of all ages walking along the beach. I noticed a variety of ways each body supported itself in an upright standing position. Do posture habits, or the way we carry ourselves throughout the day, contribute to whether we have a pain-free back?   

 

Forward Head/Rounded Shoulders

forward flexed walkingA common theme of the beach walkers stance was a forward head, rounded shoulders and a torso that was bent forward.  This particular posture seemed to be projecting an attitude that life was hard or they were carrying a heavy backpack.  The sitting position is one of the culprits that contribute to this habit.  Looking at our hand-held devices and the forward head position is another causative factor.


 

Rib Thruster/Military Posture

Another posture habit that I saw was holding the chest upright by hyperextending the upper back. The pelvis was tilted anteriorly with a low back sway.  With the shoulders held back, neck extended and face looking upward, it is as if they were “at attention” in the military. Many people actually think that this is “good posture,” when in reality, they are just hinging in the mid-spine to create the illusion of an upright posture.

Interestingly, in the younger age set, the habits were present but they still had fluidity of movement. The older adults’ postures were more pronounced, and their movements were stiff as if the posture habits were embedded in their bones.


Upright PostureGood standing posture

And then, just like a refreshing breeze, an occasional person walked by with their head balanced on top of their spine, shoulders, hips, and ankles all vertically aligned.  Their walking cadence had a fluid effortlessness.  The attitude projected was one of confidence and ease.

 

Can your Body Serve you Better?

When you are suffering from back or neck pain, headaches, or migraines, often the natural tendency is to find a therapist to “fix’ the problem and get rid of the pain. This is an important part of the approach, but as a physical therapist, I propose that providing only symptomatic relief of pain is short-sighted. After your therapy session, you may feel more balanced with less pain but then you return to automatic patterns of movement and posture. The mechanical forces that caused the pain are still present, slowly embedding themselves into your posture.

 

8 Steps to a Pain-Free Back

book_cover 8 Steps to a Pain-Free Back , by Esther Gokhale, is a user-friendly look at posture and movement re-education. The author, who had suffered from lumbar disc herniation and surgery, has traveled to other cultures where there is a low incidence of low back pain in an attempt to study and learn how they stand and move. Her book is beautifully illustrated and helps the reader learn new ways of standing, sitting, walking, bending, and even how to carry a baby to encourage the development of healthy spinal alignment in the child.


 

Posture Awareness

Our culture does not spend much time training our children in good posture habits or body awareness. We develop our posture habits and patterns of movement quite subconsciously by observing how our parents stand and move. The first step in mindful movement is awareness. So let’s start with re-learning how to sit.

How To Sit

1) Sit on your Sit bones. (Imagine you have a tail; make sure it is sticking out behind you.)


2) Anchor your ribs (Tucking them in just a little which aligns the ribcage over the pelvis.) This step is particularly important if your ribs are thrusted open in front.

Esther Gokhale 3) Reach up and over an imaginary Bar at shoulder height. (This engages your inner corset.)

4) Roll one shoulder up, back and down. Then do the other shoulder. Make sure you do not pull your shoulder blades back or thrust your ribs out. You are just “ratcheting” the shoulder joint to a new position.

5) Imagine a String that is attached to the back of your head exerting an upward force, lifting it up to the sky.

Here is a mnemonic I created to remember the steps. SABRS (pronounced sabers).

S: Sit bones

A: Anchor your ribs

B: Bar (reach over)

R: Roll shoulders

S: String lifting the head

Learn more about Posture and Movement

brianbeforeandafter


8 Steps to a Pain-Free Back is book that offers a new look at posture and movement and challenges a lot of the current posture concepts. Gokhale’s book is easy to read, beautifully illustrated, and offers easy steps to implementing a new way of understanding posture and movement. These include sitting (including a concept called stretch sitting), standing, lying, walking, and bending. The end result is a long term remedy for back pain.
As seen in the before and after photo (20 years) of Esther Gokhale’s husband, positive change is possible. Our skeletal system is built by the forces acting on it. So I ask you again, what structure are you building into your body? Can you be a better steward of your body? I have utilized the concepts personally and in my practice and found this book to be a very effective resource for postural re-education and relief of back pain.


Author: Mary Falk, PT


Bottom two photo credits: Esther Gokhale


Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. I Cor. 6:19-20




In the spirit of full disclosure, this is an affiliate link, which means that I may get a commission if you decide to purchase this book from amazon.com. I only recommend products & systems that I use and love myself, so I know you’ll be in good hands.


Categories: Back Pain, Posture

Post by Mary Falk PT on December 12, 2013

Restorative Categories

 
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8 Steps to a Pain-Free Back is book that offers a fresh look at posture and movement. It challenges a lot of the current posture concepts.

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