8 Steps to a Pain-Free Back is a book authored by Esther Gokhale. I purchased the book, read it, and attended her 6 session lessons in 2009. At that time, I had already practiced my Chinese method and the pain was largely gone. However, what attracts me most is that the Gokhale method teaches the correct way of sitting, standing, walking, lying, etc. that do not cause back pain. Thus, her method can be incorporated into our daily lives so we practice and exercise anytime, anywhere.
The eight lessons taught in the book are:
- Stretchlying on your back
- Stretchlying on your side
- Using your inner corset
Here I mainly focus on the three methods that I practice most, and I feel most effective for me. Readers, if you want to have an in-depth understanding of her method, you can buy the book. Or even better, attend her lessons.
In my point of view, stetchsitting belongs to the skin traction category. It has all the benefit of traction, which I have described in another article. But different from the skeletal traction methods, skin traction is much milder. The pull is much gentler. Thus, it is much safer and can be applied everywhere. The following video by Esther Gokhale that explains the essence of the method very well.
One key aspect of the stretchsitting method is that the back support of the char cannot be too smooth. The friction of the back support need to be high enough so that the lower back and the hip are slightly pulled up. I mostly do the stretchsitting in my car. Since I spend a lot of time driving everyday, having a good posture while driving is very important. I hang a towel on the back of the car seat to increase its friction, shown in the figure. I immediately felt the stretch after I put it on and tried the method for the first time. It felt really good while driving. However, after some time, maybe because I no longer feel any pain, I don't feel much of a difference. It may be just because I get used to the stretch. Please remember to wash the towel regularly to retain the friction.
Recently, to further increase the friction, I purchased an acupressure pad and hang it on the back seat. I hope this change will make the stretchsitting method more effective. The pad I purchased is this one
Please note, this method is more effective when the driver wears less clothes. If the friction between the clothes and the skin is not enough, the pull up force can not be strong. Also, while driving, it is usually beneficial to adjust the sit position using the method described in the video once a while.
Stretchlying on your back
Stretchlying is my most often used method. Even though I don't have any pain now, I still feel relaxed after applying it on my bed or anywhere I lie down. Now it becomes my habit. I highly recommend it. Similar to stretchsitting, stretchlying is also a type of skin traction that pulls the skin. Esther Gokhale explains it very well in the video.
Stretchlying also heavily relies on the friction between the hip and the bed sheet. The bed sheet on my bed is very smooth, so it is not that effective. In order to increase the friction, I purchased an acupressure mat, cover it with a piece of cloth, and put it on my bed, as seen in the picture. I sometimes sleep on the mat all night long. There are quite a few acupressure mats in Amazon. They are all about the same quality (as far as I can tell).
Here are a few more devices that may help to do the stretchlying right. They extend the spine and stretch it. They can be used as exercise devices, but can't be lied on overnight.
This is what I usually do wrong. When I go to see physical therapists, they recommend to bend the knees to pick up something on the ground. However, bending knees is not good for knees also. This method bend the hip and keep the spine in its original position. I feel much better on my spine after practicing this method. It is especially useful when I need to carry some heavy items.
I can't find a video by Esther Gokhale, so I use this one: