I've just bought Esther Gokhale's book on improving posture, and it seems to make a lot of sense. It appears similar to the Alexander Technique but very much based on observation of 'natural' people, which I feel is a sound paleo approach. So has anyone on here tried it? If so how long did it take for you to 'get' it and the exercises to become second nature? Did you set aside a set time to run through the exercises, or did you just try to remember to do it throughout the day? Did you do the method to alleviate pain, and if so has it worked? Any other tips for someone trying it for the first time?
I have the book 6 steps to a pain-fee back (first saw it mentioned on Mark Sisson's site) and have been doing the 'exercises' for about 9 months now. I have scoliosis (curvature of the spine) so wondered if this would correct some of the problems I have been encountering.
For the first week I consciously reminded myself to move to the right postures throughout the day, I did not set aside any time to do them independently of normal routine. To start with I was pretty much 100% remembering to do them. I started with the first exercises and then worked through the book in the right order.
I immediately found myself standing about 1/2 inch taller and the pain I experience sometimes in my lower back disappeared straight away.
Nine months later, I find that I no longer have to consciously make an effort to do the exercises, I automatically sit with my tail bone 'sticking out' and if I stop to think about it, I now stand much more upright than I ever have with a straighter back (not perfect, but better than before).
I think that this book is great because it starts you off consciously putting your body back into realignment and then your subconscious memory kicks in and you do it automatically, she really comes from the right place in terms of research, and gives you goals that you can really easily work towards, even though at first you have to make that extra effort to do them.
I now sleep on my side (I was a front sleeper) with the pillows placed as she suggests and do not toss and turn all night like I used to, this in turn has helped my night breathing too.
I combined her exercises with going barefoot (wearing VFFs) and I think this too helped my posture and back pain.
The amazing thing is that practically everybody I know with a bad back has borrowed the book and said it has helped them to some degree or other. The message it conveys - that primitive people sit differently from modern man, and that we need to re-learn how to sit like them again to save our backs, is pretty straightforward and rings true, especially when you see the photographs Gokhale has taken in the book - these photos speak for themselves. It really is very obvious.
I am so pleased that I found this book because I am now not only aware how I sit but I am also aware how my children sit, and although my eldest child already slumps over a little and curves her back into the shape we see so often in children nowadays, my five year old still sits in the natural 'tail bone out, J shaped' pose that we should all be sitting in. She stacks her spine naturally and effortlessly and is very comfortable sitting for long periods of time on the floor. I just cannot do it like she does, I have lived for forty years not knowing how to sit properly.
Instead of telling the children now to 'sit straight' (which btw does not work), I now show them exactly how to bend over properly hinging at the hip and how to stack sit and stand.
I wrote a blog post about my experiences here which may add some more info.
I think it is a really good book about posture. Although I have got a few problems with some of the advice, I can recommend it (fwiw, I'm a physical therapist).
The main problem I have, is that it appears from reading the book, that if you correct your posture, you will not have back pain. I say 'appears', because that is not entirely what she is saying, but readers will get this message.
There's more to backpain than posture, although posture has a role.
Traditional living societies have less back pain. Traditional people have 'better' posture. So they have less back pain because of the posture??? We paleo/science-geeks already know better. Correlation is not causation... Although it sounds logical that posture could lead to back pain, it is not necessarily true.
That said, I think that an overal paleo lifestyle (diet and fitness) and the very sound postural advice that Esther Gokhale provides, are very good things to do to reduce back pain problems.
In my experience (and my patients') especially the stretchlying is nice. That's probably because it was new for me. The other advice wasn't that revolutionary for me.
I recently purchased Gokhale's book and had great results when I began with her Stacksitting chapter. Her illustrations helped me to be mindful that most of my back should be fairly straight with an anteversion of the pelvis. The picture showing the way my lung and spine SHOULD expand helped me sit up straight without leaning too far forward or back - there is only a span of a few centimeters in which my lungs/spine expand instead of just or mostly my belly. Anyway, I played with that all day while I sat at the computer, and then again the next day...lo and behold, around noon when I went for a lunch break, I noticed a much smoother balance in my gait (one side drags a bit lately, and chiro has been slow about restoring it), and my knees and ankles were not fussing with my as I went up and down the stairs, despite the fact that I'd been sitting down for hours. Usually I have to hold on to the rail, and gently take one step at a time, and do so at an angle, after prolonged sitting. My back and torso muscles were a little bit sore - a mix of using unused muscles and (I think) rolling my shoulders back too far/incorrectly. I'm working on that. Also, I've started to apply her ideas on walking, and paying closer attention to what I sit on, and how.
I've also used Pete Egoscue's exercises - and when I do them, I feel measurably more aligned and pain-free. I use his "egoscue method of health through motion, and am working the set 2 exercises. I also sometimes do Christine Kent's exercises to try to prevent any more symptoms of pelvic organ prolapse. BUT I don't do it every day. I can incorporate Gokhale's method during my usual activities. Gotta love that.
I bought the book a couple of months ago. I'm through five or six of the chapters now. I've really been focusing at work at sitting properly, and it has helped a lot. The other thing that has helped, as another commenter has pointed out, is switching to barefoot running. I'm not sure which is more responsible, but I have very little lower back pain now. I just feel like everything is stacked properly on my vertebrae.
I think if I was just using her book, but still running in running shoes, I'd only be getting limited benefits. It's the combination that's working for me.
My only criticism of her book is she is not very precise sometimes in how she describes things. Like she will talk about your back "swaying" but it's not clear if she means sideways, backwards, forwards, or what. I think because she usually teaches in person, she thinks these terms are obvious.
But, as you read through the book, they become clear in the end.
I have been following Esther's program for about 4 months. She provides excellent advice on improving posture, and a big benefit is relaxing into positions that are easy to maintain for hours, important in my job which involves many hours at he computer. While I have benefited greatly from the practice, it did not solve my back problem, which seems to respond best to movement, specifically daily walks. All in all, I highly recommend applying her techniques.
I took a class, which helped me understand the concepts and identify my issues.