Esther Gokhale's blog

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How to Fix Muscle Imbalances - Do They Matter?

March, 2017

Having some asymmetry in our bodies is natural and by no means a problem… for example, the majority of us are either strongly right- or left-handed, and if we play soccer we soon discover that we have a preferred foot, too! This study shows that pelvic obliquity (often caused by legs of a slightly different length) is present in equal measure in people both with and without Lower Back Pain, and doesn’t seem to be a contributing factor to the problem of back pain.

A famous example of someone who had a big leg length discrepancy was Bruce Lee. It didn't hold him back very much! To quote him, "I became a martial artist in spite of my limitations. My left leg is almost one inch shorter than the right.  That fact dictated the best stance for me – my right foot leading. Then I found because the right leg was longer, I had an advantage with certain types... Read more

What's New and What's Missing in the 2017 ACP Clinical Guidelines for Back Pain Treatment

March, 2017

The American College of Physicians (ACP) has just issued new Clinical Guidelines for the non-invasive treatment of non-radicular lower back pain (pain that does not radiate from and is not caused by damage to the spinal nerve root).

Since the last guidelines were issued in 2007, the ACP has dramatically revised the medical solutions commonly offered for back pain. Many interventions that were once routinely administered to back pain patients, having proven to be ineffective or counterproductive for back pain, are no longer part of the guidelines for doctors. Surgery, cortisone and nerve blocking injections, X-rays, and MRIs are all discouraged in back pain cases where they used to be a part of standard care.


A lot of the what used to be standard of care for back pain is no longer recommended.

The new guidelines issued last month also discourage the use of pain... Read more

How to Bend and How Not to Bend

February, 2017

Round-backed bending is ubiquitous in modern urban culture. It damages the back. Recognizing this, many health advocates recommend bending at the knees. Done to excess or with poor form, this damages the hips, knees, ankles, and feet.

Surprisingly, poor bending form abounds even in fitness and wellness classes.

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An insistence on touching the toes can be counterproductive and result in damage

People sometimes equate being able to touch the toes with flexibility. An imprecise  and insistent pursuit of this kind... Read more

You Want Data? We've Got Data.

February, 2017

Beginning in June 2016, we sent online surveys about lower back pain to all students enrolled in our group 6-lesson Gokhale Method Foundations course. We chose the Roland-Morris Questionnaire [1], and emailed it to students 3 days before, just after, and 4 weeks after the course. All submissions were done anonymously and voluntarily. We are pleased to present our results here.

What is the Roland-Morris Questionnaire?

The Roland Morris questionnaire (http://www.rmdq.org/) lists 24 statements about the influence of back pain on daily activities. Subjects are asked to check a statement if it applies to them on the current day. For each questionnaire, the number of checks marked by the subject is counted.

 

Why the Roland-Morris Questionnaire?

  1. It

  2. ... Read more

Carrying On the Head in Tribal India

 

I’ve been in Orissa for the past week, the last of my three-week stay in India. I'm observing village and tribal people in their everyday activities, learning what I can in a short stay, and looking for nuggets of body wisdom to bring home to my students. This visit has been a rich experience indeed! Orissa has more distinct tribes (62) than any other state in India; inland Orissa is off the tourist track and entirely new to me though I was raised and well-travelled in India. 


Sharing bananas with some pottery vendors at the Kakirigumma tribal / village market.

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5 Common Posture Myths

January, 2017

Myth #1

Posture is a trivial thing my mother used to pester me about only so that I would look presentable.

Actually, posture is key to optimal health. Just as a building needs a solid foundation and structure to remain strong in wind, rain, and earthquakes, so does your body. Proper alignment of the organs, bones, and muscles improves circulation and breathing, boosts the nervous system, supports organ function, promotes muscle relaxation and stress reduction, enhances athletic performance, reduces risk of injury, and accelerates healing from injury.


These young girls are getting an early start on learning posture to improve their appearance. Good posture is also key to optimal health.

Myth #2​

The pelvis should be tucked to... Read more

How to Modify Your Car Seat For a Pain-Free Ride

December, 2016

Most of us spend a good deal of time in our cars, commuting, chauffeuring kids around, doing errands, or if we’re lucky, heading out to an adventure spot. Much of this time is spent being physically uncomfortable, especially if the car was manufactured in the last decade. There seems to be a downward spiral of poor posture and design that reflects poor posture - which in turn worsens posture. How can we break this cycle?


The industry standard for human form reflects the average in society: shoulders forward, S-shaped spine, and forward head. Car seats are designed to fit these features.

A checklist for healthy posture when driving includes:

  1. Shoulders:  back and down
  2. Neck: elongated and stacked over the spine
  3. Bottom: well back in
  4. ... Read more

Don’t Forget the Forgetting Curve! (Part 2)

December, 2016

When we first learn new information, we create shallow neural pathways in our brain that can quickly disappear. To retain information for the long-term requires reuse. Beyond the learning techniques referred to in Don’t Forget The Forgetting Curve (Part 1) (mnemonic devices, association, and multi-channel learning), re-engagement with the material is crucial in deepening the related neural pathways. Some aspects of re-engagement that play a big role in mitigating the effects of the forgetting curve are:

Repetition
Recall
The Halo Effect


Repetition is one form of engagement that is built into the Gokhale Method Foundations Course. Each technique is taught repeatedly in the course, and in... Read more

Don’t Forget the Forgetting Curve! (Part 1)

December, 2016

As a posture teacher, I am very aware of my students’ tendencies to forget the finer points of the Gokhale Method. The longer students wait between classes or refreshers, the more they’ve forgotten. Although there’s always room to improve our teaching methods, forgetting is and will always be a natural phenomenon that accompanies any kind of memory acquisition.

 

According to nineteenth century psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus and his theory of the Forgetting Curve, people have a steady rate at which they forget material over time. After learning new material, we forget the majority of what we have learned within 24 hours; we forget even more in the following days.

... Read more

In Yoga: Bend Back, Don’t Swayback!

November, 2016

Not all backbends are created equal. Healthy backbends happens at the lowest lumbar level (L5-S1); unhealthy backbends happen higher up in the lumbar spine.
Cecily Frederick doing a back dive
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