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on March 22, 2008
This is by far the single best source for healing back pain that I have seen. I hurt my lower back pretty badly doing heavy deadlifts after too long of a layoff (entirely my fault, I know), and pursued a wide variety of different treatment methods. I had previously been exposed to other postural/ alignment methodologies in an attempt to get rid of chronic injuries, which had been helpful, but nothing was as poignant, simple, or direct as Gokhale's work.

There are three outstanding aspects of this book:

1. Gokhale clearly identifies what ideal posture and alignment looks like, and backs this up with numerous photos.
2. Gokhale's method is very, very simple, and once learned, becomes integrated into your everyday life. I know of other methods where you have to spend 30-45 minutes per day doing exercises - this method requires very little extra bandwidth once you have learned it.
3. The book itself is beautifully laid out, with a balance between illustrative photos and explanations.

Considering the amount of time and money I've spent pursuing other treatment methods, this is a ridiculously good value. Don't discount it just because it is so inexpensive! I bought a copy for my parents, and two extra books as I constantly have them loaned out. If you are seeking to get rid of chronic pain, this is my #1 go-to recommendation.
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on April 12, 2008
This book has been very helpful to me, not just for the back, but also for my hip, knee, and feet. This is a beautifully illustrated and designed book, with very clear directions and explanations, using many diagrams, photographs, and visualization techniques to move the body as a whole, integrated unit.Included are sections on sitting, standing, walking and sleeping. There are also sections on helpful exercises and stretches, and troubleshooting guides with each chapter.
The sections on hinge-bending and the anteverted pelvis were especially helpful. You can watch a 53 min. talk by the author on youtube by looking up her name. Another good book on this subject is one by Stuart McGill, but it is much more scientific and doesn't address walking, sleeping, feet and knees. Esther's book is much more user-friendly with the same science and more anthropology to back up her method.
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on March 21, 2008
Esther Gokhale's book "8 Steps to a Pain Free Back" is a marvel.. At first glance it appears to be just another self help book on how to relieve common back pain. Upon reading it however, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that this is the most comprehensive and helpful book I have yet come across. Gokhale's technique which is grounded in sound anthropological study; as she explains, our back problems are largely the result of our cultural habits. Apparently, only five to ten percent of people in certain other countries suffer from back pain, yet in American that number jumps to almost ninety percent. Why such a difference? Ms. Gokhale explains that poor habits and incorrect training are to blame; and her technique for proper posture goes way beyond conventional American teachings. A victim of debilitating back pain and surgery herself, Ms. Gokhale both understands the pain many of us are going through, and genuinely wants to help.
Her book is wonderfully illustrated with the most specific "how to" techniques I have encountered. She not only guides the reader through not only what to do and what you should be feeling, but also explains symptoms of overdoing any given technique. She identifies specific muscles that need to be engaged for stability and strength in support of the discs. The book explains safe techniques for sitting, lying, bending, lifting and walking, activities we do all day long. She shows us how to preserve our knees and protect our hips as we age. As a person who has been doing yoga and seeing chiropractors for years in an attempt to overcome my own back injuries, I can safely say that this book has been incredibly effective in allowing me to resume a normal, pain free lifestyle. Once you begin integrating Ms. Gokhale's methods into your life you will be hooked and find yourself making corrections to your positioning all day long. I highly recommend this book; it will create great habits that will last a lifetime.
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on April 30, 2010
I purchased his book, for several reasons. I have suffered from lower lumbar back pain for 40 years. Forty years ago, the Veterans Administration Hospital strongly recommended surgery. And meanwhile provided grocery bags of pain killers.

But I also lived and worked in an African village for two years. I knew Esther was on the right track. The functional posture and strength of both men and woman in the tribe in which I lived, was awesome. Esther's photographs beautifully capture the functional strength and poise that I witnessed many years ago.

I bought this book with great hopes. Sadly, some of the ideas in this book only injured my back further.

But I can also say the same for the dozens of "back books" and seminars which I have read or attended over forty years. Whether the subject is Tai Chi, Yoga, or Pilates, I always find that some exercises seem to help, but there are unhappily always a few exercises that do further injury. And there is the rub.

I am also amazed that Esther does not show the ancient "village squat." This is a glaring omission. A westerner can not live, or travel, in the 3rd world and not observe the ease and frequency with which villagers - young and old - can assume the village squat.
Generally, Westerners just can't seem to squat like this for any length of time. I am mystified that this functional and popular position is not captured in her photographs.

I would love to see Esther take her beautiful - but beginning research - a step further.

Thankfully, I eventually found right here - at Amazon - some back books and DVD's which have given me relief from back pain for the first time in 40 years - as well as a new found ability to run and ice skate again.

Admittedly, my search was a long journey, but I found the best self help yet in the books and DVD's of Peter Egoscue. Book by book, I became so impressed with the results, that I eventually bought every book and DVD Peter has written or produced.

My back problems are largely confined to the lower lumbar area, due to injuries sustained in Vietnam in 1970.

Ironically, Peter Egoscue is also a Vietnam veteran who sustained injuries while on duty. Peter embarked on his own search to heal himself.

What a marvelous, simple and sound approach he has pioneered. Not one of Peter egoscue's procedures has ever caused my back further injury or pain!

In response to the one negative comment I received, may I affirm and clarify that my back injuries are serious - due to substantial injuries sustained in Vietnam. I do recognize that many other people will be well served by Esther's exercises.

But, I also wish to extend a hopeful hand to those whose injuries are severe, life long, and who so far may have found only partial or intermittent help with the many modalities of back treatment that have developed over the past 40 years.

In addition, to the books and DVD's I recommended above, I now wish to one more book that I earlier withheld - due to its price. "Rehabilitation of The Spine: A Practitioner's Manual" by Craig Liebsenson. Available here on Amazon.

Yes, the price is edgy! But this book is a must have for anyone who experiences chronic and severe back difficulties. A magnificent and clearly articulated review of all of the current treatment modalities available in the mainstream as well as the alternative medical fields today. Pay attention to what Dr Vladimir Janda is doing to treat patients in Czechoslovakia.

Ok. A couple years later, and I wish to add another writer, especially for those persons with serious injuries - sports related or work related. I discovered the fellow who has co-authored more than 250 clinical published studies on the back. He is a fountainhead of knowledge for trainers and rehab experts alike. Two of his books are available here on Amazon. "Low Back Disorders" and "Ultimate Back Fitness & Performance" by Stuart McGill, PhD.

His research methods are exquisite. He busts more fitness myths than any writer I have yet read - and he does this with science based data, much of it derived from his own labs. I must caution that he writes to the trainer and rehab audience. But his writing is extremely clear to me, a lay person. Nearly every page in the first half of book, "Low Back Disorders," is filled with lab evidence as to why so much of what your coach, your drill instructor, your fitness guru, and / or the muscles mags are saying is simply dangerous or wrong. This half steers you away from incredibly dangerous , but popular routines. That knowledge alone is worth a lot.

As you will recognize in all of his books and DVD's, Stuart McGill works with the highest performing world class athletes.

He also publishes two DVD's which I have not found here on Amazon.

Once again, good luck with your own search for back health.
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on March 22, 2008
This book offers a natural, simple solution to chronic back pain. No special machines or contraptions or surgeries are required. Instead it teaches healthy posture. Esther Gohkale studied posture in countries such as India, Burkina Faso, and Portugal, where people have very back-demanding life styles, but suffer very little back injury or pain. Her book offers an anthropological study, with color photographs of beautiful, healthy backs from around the world, in ancient and modern times. She offers clear, simple instructions to help anyone achieve healthy, pain-free posture.

I've tried chiropractors, massage, physical therapy, yoga, and Pilates for my chronic back pain, and each helps to a degree, but none eliminated the painful "bungee" cord running between my shoulder blade and spine. Gokhale's methods of "stretch sitting" and "stretch lying" have provided me the most lasting relief of anything I've tried, and they are the simplest techniques of all!

This book is well worth the investment--it's only a fraction of the cost of a massage or chiropractic visit, and it's provides fascinating reading and vital healing. Best of all, it extends hope that anyone can free themselves from chronic pain, no matter how cramped or stooped you've become.
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on June 16, 2015
After suffering from back pain for twenty years, I bought this book based on the overwhelming five star reviews. I thought that if any book could tell me how to get rid of my debilitating pain, this would be the one. I eager awaited for the book to arrive, then read it carefully and began following the eight steps to a pain free back. I did notice some improvement, but I would say only about 30%. There must be more to back pain than standing and sitting the right way. And the more I thought about it, the more I realized that the whole theory didn't make much sense. We learn how to walk by the age of two. We learn how to do all our daily activities and be active, and never have back pain as children. Do you mean to tell me that by age 20 or 30 or 40 that we suddenly forget how to properly stand and walk and sit? Do we slowly forget how to do these things? I continued to practice what the book calls "proper posture" but did not see any impressive results. I concluded that the author must have had some high profile appearances on television or had a lot of unverified five star reviews, because for some reason the eight steps weren't helping me very much.

Then something strange happened.

One morning I got very sick after eating a bowl of cereal. I vomited repeatedly for an hour. Later I realized that the milk I'd used had been expired. The sugary cereal must have masked the sour taste of the milk. Anyway, the cause of my illness was clear. Feeling nauseous, I didn't eat for the rest of the day. The next day, I tried having breakfast, but it went straight through me. That whole day everything I ate seemed to instantly liquefy and pass right through me. (Sorry for the TMI, and yes, I'll get to how this relates to back pain in a minute.) Afraid to eat anything, I decided I had to abstain from food for a while. For the next five days I had nothing but water (even sugary beverages and coffee caused explosions). Six days after my initial food poisoning from expired milk, I tried eating solid food again and it stayed down just fine. Thank God, I was able to eat again! But the most amazing thing happened: My back pain disappeared.

After resuming my terrible diet, my back pain slowly returned. Within a few months I was in the usual amount of pain. Since then, I have tried to find the connections between diet and back pain. This is what I've determined: Back pain is caused by expansion in the abdominal cavity, which forces ligaments and muscles out of their ideal position. This in turn forces the entire upper body to compensate for the imbalance. Many muscles must work harder than they should. Some muscles are strained by not being in alignment. This is called a structural imbalance, and it usually not caused by your forgetting the proper way to stand or sit.

Dietary guidelines that have helped me: Avoid sugary things because they ferment and cause expansion in the gut. Avoid grain fiber (bran) because it bulks up the intestinal contents too much. Cheese and meat in excess can cause blockages and expansion. I have found that a very low carb diet reduces the bloating and expansion caused by grains and sugary junk food. I think high insulin may have something to do with back pain, too, but I haven't found any hard evidence yet. Drink a lot of water, too, because dehydration is definitely linked to back pain. After using these dietary rules, I then practiced the eight steps in Ms. Gokhale's book but for the most part, my muscles moved back into proper alignment with some gently stretches.

I hope this review helps.
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on June 13, 2008
Ether's method has transformed my approach to my own long-term back pain therapy. I have herniated lumbar disks, in addition to tight gluteus medius and piriformis that have contributed to chronic sciattica over the past 5 years. I have employed many forms of therapy, including PT, massage, Yoga, inversion, Feldenkrais and others. All have helped, but when a friend told me about Esther's book, I was intrigued to try a new approach. Within 3 hours of integrating Esther's method of stretchsitting (did this while reading the book), I felt a tremendous improvement in my pain level. This was especially significant to me, since at the time, I was 2 weeks away from an epidural cortisone injection - my overall pain level had become unbearable. I worked on the other 8 steps over that time period and was able to cancel the procedure because after 2 weeks I was 95% pain-free. This work has been the single most transformational therapy for my back pain. It has given me an entirely new way of looking at my posture in every-day activities, as well as all of the athletics I participate in. I feel so strongly about Esther's method, as a massage therapist, I'm going to become certified to teach her method to help my own clients. Esther's research and structure of her book make it easy to understand and integrate. Thanks Esther for your insightful, common-sense approach to posture and body mechanics.
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on March 31, 2011
When I read in another review here that this was the ONLY book you need for back pain, I was skeptical. But after buying and reading three of the top-selling books on Amazon on back pain, I'd like to say that if you can only buy one book, buy this one. The first book I got helped me learn more about the medical establishment and conventional treatments. The second one on the McKenzie methods might have led me to injure myself more if I'd continued to try some of his exercises which turned out to be not safe for my herniated disk. The third book I read was Gokhale's, and I had dramatic results just from practicing one of the techniques, "Stretchlying" one night. I continued to improve as I made adjustments to my pillow and bed over the next few nights. My sciatica pain, which had only improved somewhat with months of physical therapy (and mostly from my insisting that my therapist help me improve my sitting posture), decreased 80 or 90% with "stretchlying" and has not worsened over the past few weeks. If I had bought this book several months ago I would have saved a lot of money on physical therapy. I had not been able to sleep on my back but have been able to do so comfortably using her technique and am waking up pain-free.

I agree with another reviewer that it can be difficult to know if you are doing things correctly just from reading the book. I was only able to figure out stretchlying out of the techniques for sure on my own from the book out of all the techniques that was indicated as being safe for my condition. The proof was the dramatic decrease in pain that I experienced as a result. The rest of the techniques I am waiting to learn from Esther Gokhale's classes as I discovered I have the great good fortune of living within easy commute of where she teaches. The author's institute also offers free webinars so that you can see how you're supposed to do some of it. I found that reading the book very carefully helped me to get more out of the in-person introductory class that I took from her last night.

Also, I stopped by the house of some friends of mine to share this discovery with them, and the husband was complaining of neck pain (which I don't have). I showed him a technique I learned in the class which is also in the book, and he had immediate relief! It was the highlight of my day. Gokhale's techniques also provide relief from tennis elbow, fibromyalgia, and strangely enough, constipation, not just back and neck pain. The information deserves to be spread exponentially and would alleviate huge amounts of physical suffering in our society.
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on February 11, 2013
I have a difficult time [to say the least] in figuring out if I am executing each of her 'positions' included in her lessons properly.
I find her guides included in each lesson are not as detailed as they should be.
Also, the 8 steps are really 8 habits she wants you to implement in your daily life.
As I have found googling each lesson to find a video demonstration more helpful than her literature, I think you would also feel the same.
If you don't want to risk buying the book, here are the 8 lessons included in her book:
1) Stretchsitting
2) Stretch lying on your back
3) Stacksitting
4) Stretch lying on your side
5) Using your inner corset
6)Tallstanding
7)Hip-Hinging
8) Glidewalking
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on April 16, 2008
Don't let the title mislead you. I don't have back pain (or neck, shoulder, hip, knee, foot pain), but this book was still very useful to me.

Sitting:
This book helps me sit more comfortably at work for longer periods of time. My back feels great because my spine is getting a nice stretch out of sitting. Learning how to elongate my neck and release tension in my neck muscles makes it feel a lot better too, whereas before, I would feel tight and cramped in my neck after working on my computer for a while. Also, sitting on a stool, on the floor, or any place that doesn't have a backrest, is easy to do now. I no longer have to force my body to "sit up straight". I can sit tall with my muscles completely relaxed-- so much so that when I breathe, my back feels like it's getting a massage!

Sleeping:
After following the directions for Stretchlying in the book, I've found that I sleep more deeply, don't wake up in the middle of the night, wake up in the morning in the same position I went to sleep in, and feel so much more refreshed. I had no idea that my posture played such an important role in the quality of my sleep . . .

Running:
I've been surprised at the ways the techniques in this book benefit my running. I'm able to run more comfortably, longer without getting as tired, and faster. Amazing.
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