There is no question that many of the human health ailments of the 21st Century are directly related to changes in how we work, eat, sleep and behave over the past several decades. Fast and processed foods, increased commute times, technological innovations, air and water pollution, chronic stress and sedentary lifestyles are all taking a toll on our health as we strive to have it all in the New Millennium.
One almost ubiquitous medical complaint among adults in the world’s most advanced cultures is acute and chronic back pain. Treatments range from mild analgesics like NSAIDs to spinal manipulation, to narcotic pain killers and surgery. Yet few popular medical interventions seem to completely resolve back pain.
A few years ago, Esther Gokhale, a California acupuncturist, began to study indigenous populations around the globe who appeared to have few incidents of back pain. She had experienced back problems herself, to the extent that she even had surgery to resolve them, to no avail.
In her quest for answers, she made the observation that illustrations of human spines depicted in drawings from as long ago as the era of Leonardo DaVinci and as recently as 1901 were shaped differently than those depicted in modern anatomy books. The older illustrations showed the spin as a sort of J-shape, with a more pronounced curve at the tailbone, and little to no curve at the thoracic and cervical spine. She also noted that ancient Greek statues and young children appear to have more J-shaped spines. By contrast, modern anatomy illustrations show the spine as an S-shape, with contrasting curves at the upper and lower spine.
As Gokhale dug deeper into spinal anatomy, she began to compare the postures of modern-day indigenous populations who experience little or no incidence of back pain, to the postures of technologically advanced populations. Sure enough, the indigenous people had a less pronounced S-curve, and a more J-shaped spine. Gokhale concluded that the S-curved spine is not optimally functional, but rather a misalignment brought about by modern lifestyle habits.
Gokhale went on to develop a series of exercises and write a book to help others correct their posture, tapping into physiotherapy methods like the Alexander Technique and the Feldenkrais Method, and drawing from the work of anthropologist Noelle Perez-Christiaens. She has since successfully treated dozens of back pain sufferers in her Palo Alto studio. She has developed a reputation as the “Posture Guru” among her patients, and doctors often refer back pain patients to her.
If you suffer from back pain or want to acquire a healthier posture, the specialists at NYDNRehab can help. We use innovative therapies and state-of-the art technologies to diagnose and treat our patients. Contact NYDNRehab today, and begin the journey toward a healthier spine and improved posture.
Gokhale, Esther, and Susan Adams. 8 Steps to a Pain-Free Back: Natural Posture Solutions for pain in the back, neck, shoulder, hip, knee, and foot. Posturenomics. com, 2008.
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