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8 Steps to a Pain-Free Back: Natural Posture Solutions for Pain in the Back, Neck, Shoulder, Hip, Knee, and Foot Paperback – April 1, 2008
"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
Don't miss best-selling author Kwame Alexander's "Rebound," a new companion novel to his Newbery Award-winner, "The Crossover,"" illustrated with striking graphic novel panels. Pre-order today
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"The most lucid account I have read of how the human spine works, with handy lessons in how to stand, sit, walk, and sleep free of back pain." —J. M. Coetzee, Nobel Prize–winner in Literature
"8 Steps to a Pain-Free Back is the best back pain book on the market. I had significant problems with low back pain and sciatica for more than two decades before Esther Gokhale was able to help me. If I had found her earlier, it could have saved me a great deal of pain and grief.” —Paul R. Ehrlich, author, Human Natures and Population Bomb
"A great book for someone who is serious about achieving a pain-free back and willing to work to reach that goal." —American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons
From the Author
For some, a pain-free life is only a memory, but it doesn't have to be. Through my experience in healing my own back pain, coupled with extensive training and research, I have developed a technique to alleviate back pain--the Gokhale Method. It has been a privilege and a pleasure to help thousands of people re-learn the way their bodies were designed to move--gracefully and with ease. I have spent fifteen years teaching the technique, honing it for clarity and efficiency, and am delighted to present it here for general use. Many physicians now refer their back patients to me, and almost all the patients start to improve from the first lesson. In many cases the results are dramatic (see page 24). But then there are the people who can't come to see me, people who call me from the East Coast or the Midwest, perhaps friends or relatives of my patients, who are suffering terribly and need help. For years, I have wished there were a book that I could send them with step-by-step instructions and demonstrations of my technique. And here it is.
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But that's what's happened.
Because here is yet one more book, "8 Steps to a Pain-Free Back" which makes no mention of this successful treatment, and sticks instead to the antiquated (and false) medical view that chronic pain is caused by structural `abnormalities'; a book that encourages this false notion with false claims that anthropological evidence supports that `posture' is the cause of chronic pain (which is not true); yet another book that ignores the work of Dr. John E. Sarno, MD and his success with treating chronic pain patients (diagnosis TMS), even though Sarno's book "Healing Back Pain: The Mindbody Connection" has been the best-selling book of its kind on Amazon for years, boasting over 700 positive reviews (testimonials to its successful treatment). Even though scientific evidence has VALIDATED the high success rate of Sarno's work and simultaneously INVALIDATED the belief that pain is caused by structural problems?
Yet this is what has happened. The successful TMS treatment continues to be ignored by medicine and innocent, trusting patients continue to suffer from chronic pain, many of them resorting to surgery--even though studies have shown that back surgery is rarely successful.
It's heart-breaking to read the reviews of this book speak in despair of the findings of their xrays and MRIs. They speak of their herniated discs;, bulging, slipped and fractured discs; sciatica, scoliosis, lordosis, kyphosis, weak core muscles, degenerative disease, back spasms, spondylosis, osteoporosis as the cause of their pain. But chronic pain is NOT caused by ANY of these things. Chronic pain is caused by TMS, which causes mild oxygen deprivation to the muscles, with causes your chronic pain.
Regarding Ms. Gokhale's `Technique?' Anthropologist/historian that she is, she quotes some interesting statistics about the prevalence of chronic pain in various societies. But Gokhale's "technique" is NOT grounded in "sound anthropological study" as claimed (a scientist would shudder). She DOES accurately state that a mere 5-10% five of people in certain other countries suffer from back pain while, in sharp contrast, there is a huge epidemic of back pain (and by definition it is indeed an "epidemic") of up to 90% which is largely confined to adults living in Europe and North America during the 20th century. She then poses the question, "Why such a difference?"
The author then makes a giant leap to the not-scientifically-founded conclusion that poor postural habits and incorrect training are to blame for chronic pain problems--and this simply is NOT TRUE. Studies performed over 30 years ago showed that there is NO correlation between spinal `abnormalities' and the presence of pain. What's more, other studies have shown that more than half of the population has spinal abnormalities. Perhaps the author just latched onto the idea that structural abnormalities caused pain because that's what our medical system perpetuates.
I ask the author to please read the reviews written on her book. Listen to how many of these people had xrays and MRIs which found `abnormalities of the spine.' Listen to how focused these individuals are on their pain, how it seems to consume their lives. Did your research about chronic pain reveal to you that the more advanced our imaging equipment got, the more people there were that were diagnosed with fractured and slipped discs and scoliosis, etc.? That as soon as `Repetitive Stress Injury' became a Thing that the more prevalent it became throughout our society? As if no one ever sat at a typewriter or in a factory production line all day before?
I myself am someone who has suffered with chronic pain for decades. I used to believe chronic pain was structural in nature, too. But then I got a book entitled, "The Great Pain Deception: Medical Advice is Making Us Worse" by Steven Ozanich. Little did I realize that this book was going to change my life, but it did! Because this book is the first I've read that explains the CAUSE of chronic pain, which is TMS--Tension Myositis Syndrome. And TMS can be successfully treated.
Contrary to deep-seated (but false) beliefs commonly held by doctors, chronic pain is NOT caused by spine or disc problems (studies proved this over 3 decades ago), if that's what you've been told by your doctors. It is NOT caused by osteoarthritis (studies proved THIS over 3 decades ago, too). Your X-rays might show a slipped disc or knee osteoarthritis--but over half the population has slipped discs and/or osteoarthritis, and they ALSO show in the X-rays of people who do NOT have pain. Ie., it's just a coincidence. But if you say you have low back pain and the X-ray shows a disc 'abnormality', the doctor says, "Lookee here, your X-ray shows there's a disc problem in your low back. Well, there you are, that's what's causing your pain." Only IT'S NOT. The pain is caused by mild oxygen deprivation to the MUSCLE tissue in the area, and that oxygen deprivation to those muscles is caused by signals sent from your brain to your body to restrict the blood flow to the muscle thus leading to oxygen deprivation. It's called TMS. Tension Myositis Syndrome. It IS treatable, and it IS curable. Treatment is relatively easy, and the success rate is high. In fact, the AMA did a peer review study of Dr. John E. Sarno's work (the doctor who identified TMS) and found that, for low back pain, Dr. Sarno's therapy had a HIGHER success rate than conventional medicine did (JAMA 2006). Sarno has treated over 10,000 chronic pain patients successfully over 40 years.
But in spite of all the evidence, don't be surprised if your doctor pooh poohs Sarno and TMS or has never heard of them. Because medicine is biased against 'mind-body' diagnoses. They still believe that pain is structural, and they still believe in prescribing drugs and surgery. Then, too, there's little money to be made with Sarno's 'knowledge therapy' (what will all the orthopedic surgeons do if Sarno's work catches on? They've got mortgages to pay.
Ozanich's book about TMS has changed my life. Already my pain is starting to go away. But more than that--understanding TMS has changed my whole way of thinking. Things don't bother me as much. I feel like a young person in a young body again. If I were someone reading this review, I would forget about books that tell you that structure is causing your pain and I would seek out information on Sarno and TMS (sources below).
-Wikipedia. Look up 'tension myositis syndrome.'
--"Healing Back Pain: The Mind-Body Connection" John E. Sarno, MD (2010)
--"The Divided Mind: The Epidemic of Mindbody Disorders " John E. Sarno, MD (2007)
--*The Great Pain Deception: Faulty Medical Advice Is Making Us Worse"--Steven Ray Ozanich (2011)------[my personal favorite].
--tmswiki.org (includes series of weekly audio recordings about TMS)
--youtube.com. Look up "Dr. John Sarno 20/20" and others. I especially like the testimonial by 'Juliet Archdale' --how Sarno's book 'Healing Back Pain' gave her her life back in just 2 weeks.
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 300 clinical published studies on the back and spine. He is a fountainhead of knowledge for trainers and rehab experts alike. He is quoted by the best of the best trainers regularly. Two of his books - directed toward the medical professional --- 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, Dr 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.
Added, Sep 11, 2016
Are you folks aware that Dr Stuart McGill has finally released a new book. His first book in his 30+ year career, now intended to help the lay person? Everyday folks.
Having read all of Dr McGill's books and watched all of his DVD's -- which are geared toward the professional, I can now say that this new book, "Back Mechanic" is the best written and edited, the best produced and best illustrated of all his books.
I presented a copy of this book to an attending Physician at the local Veteran's Medical Center, Department of Rehabilitative medicine.
I told her I might recommend this book to other veterans. But first would like to hear her own opinion. Do you think these ideas will case any harm?
Do you think these ideas will help veterans?
She got back to me, "I love it! It is so easy to read. So easy for the veteran to understand. I have received approval from the Department Director to make this book available to all of my veteran patients. We are now seeking the funding from the Education Department.
It was released just recently.
Available at Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Back-Mechanic-Dr-Stuart-McGill/dp/0973501820
Most importantly, for the first time Dr McGill has included a self diagnosis procedure, so that every day persons can hopefully determine the major causes and/or sources of their back pain.
The book covers rehabilitation remedies that address each particular diagnosis.
I can say that having read all of his prior books and learned so much, I am now learning even more in this beautiful edition. The illustrations are clear and extensive.
Once again, Stuart McGill dispels so many sports rehabilitation myths and legends. He lays bare many surprising details that are truly harmful to a healthy back. And describes in detail the way back to real recovery.
I am only a bit more than 1/2 way through it.
I deliberately set a slow pace. Stopping to try out his techniques and his self diagnosis strategies.
We are fortunate to have the wisdom of this man who has spent decades in his research laboratory as well as his rehabilitation facility. He has worked with the world's top elite athletes for all of these decades, as well as everyday folks who are injured.
This book may become the classic in its field. The starting place.
I will may write a review and post it when I have finished reading the entire book.
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.