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Customer Review

473 of 517 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The photos are fantastic, but beware some of the procedures., April 30, 2010
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This review is from: 8 Steps to a Pain-Free Back: Natural Posture Solutions for Pain in the Back, Neck, Shoulder, Hip, Knee, and Foot (Paperback)
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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Showing 1-10 of 46 posts in this discussion
Initial post: May 1, 2010 10:34:18 AM PDT
Maya White says:
Regarding exercises causing discomfort: The author is very clear in advising people to not proceed with anything that causes them increased pain.

Regarding the "village squat": Squats are not something the author recommends we emulate from other cultures because unless we have grown up squatting, we don't have the bone structure to do it and could put ourselves at increased risk of injury. Westerners do not grow up squatting over pit toilets, squatting to eat, etc... and because of that, the natural stresses at the joints are different and the ossification patterns during childhood are slightly different, so Westerners don't have the same range of motion at the joints in adulthood.

Posted on May 3, 2010 6:07:27 PM PDT
This reviewer has submitted an almost identical review for the book "The Ab Revolution Third Edition- No More Crunches No More Back Pain" by Jolie Bookspan. I question if he has read this particular book too closely as there are no "procedures" in it (as in Egoscue, which he is very familiar with) but functional exercises that one would do anyway like sitting, standing, lying, etc. At any rate, I think that he may have it confused with one of the many other back books he has perhaps read (he says he's read "dozens" over 40 years). O.

Posted on Dec 28, 2010 8:19:23 PM PST
[Deleted by the author on Dec 28, 2010 8:19:32 PM PST]

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 23, 2011 8:27:18 PM PST
Interesting about the squatting! Someone once saw me squatting (I think I was wrapping a gift on the floor) and told me that they'd seen a TV special that our bones were different and we couldn't do it. It didn't make sense to me, because obviously I WAS doing it. haha, but I did grow up squatting I guess. No one ever told me not to.

As for the book, I just ordered it and can't wait to get it after watching her speak on some of the YouTube vids.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 6, 2011 7:36:04 PM PST
JR Miller: Thank you so much for the other book referrals and I am going to once again try Peter Egoscue's methods. He comes highly recommended and has seemingly worked "miracles" getting people up and out of wheelchairs and canes and I need to buckle down and "work a program." Might as well be his. Thank you again for such a detailed and thorough and thoughtful review. Going there now.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 3, 2012 6:51:11 AM PST
C. Smith says:
What?! Of course we have the bone structure to do it. I started doing the third-world squat a few years ago- it was very easy for me- with no problems.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 3, 2012 6:51:56 AM PST
[Deleted by the author on Feb 3, 2012 6:52:06 AM PST]

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 25, 2012 4:55:58 PM PST
J. S. Norton says:
I too can squat but only in the way that most westerners can, i.e. with heels off the floor.

The 'Asian squat' is impossible for me at this stage. For the difference, see:

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 26, 2012 9:07:53 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 26, 2012 9:08:41 AM PST
In reply to C Smith: Because something seems to work for you doesn't mean it is right for everyone. For example, after seeing an MRI of my knee, a specialist told me never to do squats. But I wouldn't put a note here saying that no one anywhere in the world should ever do squats.

Posted on Apr 21, 2012 10:04:20 PM PDT
Marilisa says:
I am mystified by Gokhale, and the squatting issue is one reason. It is true that, if you don't grow up squatting, you don't develop the "squatting facets" seen in the bones of people who do. But anyone who has studied yoga knows that you can improve, and, with a slightly lifted heel (normal shoes give this), I now find squatting very comfortable.

But I wonder if squatting facets are related to the value of Gokhale's "ducky butt." Maybe, if you don't have the facets necessary to squat comfortably, it's not such a good idea to stick your butt out like a Burkinan. I too find it distressing that she doesn't address this possible connection. And I too find Egoscue more convincing, despite all Gokhale's gorgeous pictures. I have a creepy feeling that she may have been overly selective in what she chose to publish.

Then there's the glaringly unaddressed issue of the Taiji "principles"--practiced by millions, completely opposed to what she teaches, and arising from the same Taoist tradition as her acupuncture training. You would think, from her writing, that chi flow isn't an issue. Why doesn't she address this discrepancy? If she's right, millions of Taiji practitioners are injuring themselves. Why isn't she doing a major push to warn them?

As a Taiji practitioner, I honestly don't know what to do. Stop practicing, because Gokhale has decided it's dangerous? Ignore her? Take what I like, and leave the rest?
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