Exercises to tackle bad posture can avert back surgery


eeedb1a8-5727-4ebf-9baf-bcdc943cda2c.imgWith all the resources available to Google, you would imagine that the executives and boffins who labour there enjoy an idyllic life. But it turns out that they too suffer from back pain. Neuromuscular pain in the back and neck is the single largest reason for medical treatment at the Californian group.

Back pain has become the scourge of the modern office worker. A 2004 study found that Americans spent $90bn a year on it. And the conventional medical cure frequently offers little relief: a review found that up to 50 per cent of patients who had disc surgery felt excruciating pain long after.

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Esther Gokhale, who has been hired by Google to ease its workers’ back pain, once suffered herself, even after surgery for a herniated disc. When doctors suggested a second operation, Ms Gokhale, who was raised in India and now lives in Silicon Valley, had an epiphany when she looked at century-old photos and realised that people today have what she calls “really poor body mechanics.”

“I think people have forgotten how to use their body in such simple everyday things as how to sit, how to bend, how to walk and even lay down,” she says.

So she developed the Gokhale Method, a series of posture-changing classes taught in the US, UK, Germany and the Netherlands. The idea is to retrain the body to learn how to sit, bend and stand correctly. She maintains that most back pain will disappear after six lessons.

Another highly  regarded treater of back pain is Pete Egoscue, a sports injury consultant who has clinics in the US, Japan and Mexico and will soon open up in Germany. Mr Egoscue argues that traditional doctors always blame some spinal defect for back pain, when it is really postural imbalances that lead to the spinal defects in the first place.

“If you intervene with in­­j­ections or surgery it may mitigate the symptoms but because you didn’t treat the cause, the symptoms will return,” he says.

Egoscue clinics do a computer analysis of your posture to find a range of problems from rolled shoulders to pigeon toes.

They recommend exercises such as “the air bench”, where you sit against a wall with no chair; the “supine groin stretch”, which relaxes your lower back by raising your legs to different levels; and the “static extension”, pictured above.

But what if the posture exercises don’t do the trick? Dr John Sarno is a medical doctor who taught rehabilitative medicine at the NYU Langone Hospital in New York. He has treated several thousand back-pain sufferers with a still controversial thesis: the pain is not physical.

“The pain is brought on by your brain to distract your attention from things that are going on emotionally in your life,” says Dr Sarno. “The brain reduces blood flow to tissues, not enough to damage the tissue but to cause pain and distract from the emotional stuff.”

Dr Sarno says it is no coincidence that back-pain sufferers also have signs of stress, such as stomach complaints and headaches. He maintains that the solution is knowledge: talking to yourself and telling your subconscious mind that you are aware that emotional conflicts are behind the pain can be a remarkably effective treatment, he says. Dr Sarno admits his theory is still not widely accepted in the medical community.

But I have tried all the methods mentioned here and found that, in combination and practised regularly, they eliminated my own back pain after many years of suffering.



Babatunde Akinsola
Babatunde Akinsolahttps://naija247news.com
Babatunde Akinsola is aNaija247news' Southwest editor. He's based in Lagos and writes on the Yoruba Nation political issues, news and investigative reports

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