8 Steps to a Pain-Free Back

( 12 )


With a fresh approach to a common problem, this self-help guide to overcoming back pain advocates adopting the natural, healthy posture of athletes, young children, and people from traditional societies the world over. Arguing that most of what our culture has taught us about posture is misguided—even unhealthy—and exploring the current epidemic of back pain, many of the commonly cited reasons for the degeneration of spinal discs and the stress on muscles that leads to back pain are examined and ...

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With a fresh approach to a common problem, this self-help guide to overcoming back pain advocates adopting the natural, healthy posture of athletes, young children, and people from traditional societies the world over. Arguing that most of what our culture has taught us about posture is misguided—even unhealthy—and exploring the current epidemic of back pain, many of the commonly cited reasons for the degeneration of spinal discs and the stress on muscles that leads to back pain are examined and debunked. The historical and anthropological roots of poor posture in Western cultures are studied as is the absence of back pain complaints in the cultures of Africa, Asia, South America, and rural Europe. Eight detailed chapters provide illustrated step-by-step instructions for making simple, powerful changes to seated, standing, and sleeping positions. No special equipment or exercise is required, and effects are often immediate.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"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

"Esther's technique for treating chronic back pain is totally unique and her research really backs it up. This is a great tool for all of us."  —Billie Jean King, winner of 20 Wimbledon titles

"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

"Esther Gokhale helped me resolve a five-year injury after nothing else had worked. Her work is unique and thorough."  —Patti Sue Plumer, three-time Olympian, 1992 World Record holder for 1500m and 500m run

"Every year, tens of thousands of patients undergo major back surgery without any benefits. By using Esther Gokhale’s novel techniques, many of these patients can avoid such needless and expensive medical procedures, and quickly return to a pain free life."  —John R. Adler, MD, neurosurgery, Stanford University Medical Clinic

"This book . . . will eventually be recognized by the medical community as the greatest contribution ever made to nonsurgical back treatment in this country."  —Helen Barkan, MD, PhD, neurology, Mayo Clinic

"This is not only a stimulating self-help guide for relief of back pain through healthy posture, but also a work of art that celebrates the grace and poetry of the human body."  —David Werner, author, Where There Is No Doctor

American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons
A great book for someone who is serious about achieving a pain-free back and willing to work to reach that goal.
School Library Journal

After suffering major back pain and undergoing unsuccessful surgery, Gokhale attended classes in France and at Stanford University on posture-modification techniques. Here, she explains how she came to develop her own method for back health, incorporating words, illustrations, and lush photographs to demonstrate eight lessons on sitting, lying down, standing, lifting, and walking. Each lesson contains goals and objectives, step-by-step instructions, indications of improvement, troubleshooting tips, and further information. Photos illustrate correct and incorrect movements. Appendixes provide additional exercises, anatomical drawings, a glossary, and a bibliography. Testimonials from some physicians and satisfied patients pepper the book, as do a few promotional ads for Gokhale's clinic, web site, and products. Gokhale's advice to bend straight down from the hips to pick up low items will make many physical therapists shudder; some recommended movements may be too subtle for readers to execute without professional guidance. Still, Gokhale's point about bad posture causing back problems is valid. Recommended to supplement larger collections.
—Janet M. Schneider

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780979303609
  • Publisher: Pendo Press
  • Publication date: 4/1/2008
  • Pages: 227
  • Sales rank: 39,507
  • Product dimensions: 8.50 (w) x 11.00 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Esther Gokhale, LAc, is the founder of the Esther Gokhale Wellness Center, a licensed acupuncturist, and the creator of the Gokhale Method™, a revolutionary approach that helps people achieve better health through better structure. Susan Adams is a writer and editor specializing in biotechnology and computer technology.

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Table of Contents

Foreword     xv
Preface     xvii
Foundations     2
Back Pain     6
What We Blame     6
Standing Upright?     6
Sedentary Lives?     7
Stress?     8
Weight and Height?     9
Age?     10
The Real Cause     10
Loss of Kinesthetic Tradition     13
Influence of the Fashion Industry     15
The Effect on Our Backs     16
Moving out of Misery     17
How it Works     17
What does Good Posture Look Like?     18
Anteverted Pelvis     20
A Gently Curved, Elongated Spine     21
Every Bone in its natural Place     22
Using Muscles More than Joints     23
Muscles Fully Relaxed When not Working     23
Breathing as a Therapeutic Exercise     23
It Works!     24
Orientation     26
Follow the Lesson Sequence     28
Herniated Disc     28
High Impact Activities     28
Bending Activities     28
Allow time to Change     28
Know what to Expect     29
How QuicklyCan I Expect Results?     29
How Long Should Each Lesson Take?     29
How Difficult are the Lessons?     29
Understand How the Lessons are Organized     29
Recognize Your Progress     30
Barriers to Success     30
Stretchsitting     32
Benefits     36
Instructions     38
Indications of Improvement     48
Troubleshooting     48
Feeling Overly Stretched     48
Unable to Stretch the Spine     48
Discomfort at Point of Contact     49
Inadequate Chair     49
Further Information     49
Shoulder Repositioning     49
Comments on Lumbar Cushions     50
Sitting in a Car     50
Fashioning a Backrest     51
Checking Your Position     51
Recap     53
Stretchlying on Your Back     54
Benefits     57
Instructions     58
Indications of Improvement     64
Troubleshooting     64
Feeling Pain or Discomfort in the Low Back     64
Feeling Pain or Discomfort in the Neck     64
Feeling Discomfort at a Point of Contact with the Bed     65
Snoring     65
Feelings of Exposure     65
Further Information     65
Beds     65
Pillows     65
Cervical Pillows / Rolls     66
Recap     67
Stacksitting     68
The Wedge     71
The Anteverted Pelvis     72
Benefits     73
Instructions     74
Indications of Improvement     88
Troubleshooting     88
Pain in the Low Back     88
Soreness in the Low Back     88
Wedge Not Available     88
Inelegant Movement     88
Changed Line of Vision     89
Further Information     89
Conflicting Guidelines     89
Distinction Between Tipping the Pelvis and Swaying the Back     89
Chairs     90
Floor     91
Recap     93
Stretchlying on Your Side     94
Benefits     97
Instructions     98
Indications of Improvement     106
Troubleshooting     106
You Can't Fall Asleep     106
Your Body Doesn't Hold the Position Through the Night     106
You Are Uncomfortable in This Position     106
Further Information     107
Sleeping on Your Stomach     107
What to do With Your Legs     108
Recap     109
Using Your Inner Corset     110
Benefits     114
Instructions     116
Indications of Improvement     122
Troubleshooting     122
Swaying the Low Back     122
Difficulty Breathing     122
Further Information     122
Lengthening by Contracting     122
Jumping     123
Reaching above Your Head     123
Protecting Your Neck     124
Using an External Corset     124
Recap     127
Tallstanding     128
Benefits     131
Instructions     134
Indications of Improvement     142
Troubleshooting     142
Unable to Contract the Foot Arch     142
Difficulty Shifting Weight onto Heels     142
Problems Aligning the Shoulders     143
Inability to Sense Your Vertical Axis     143
Further Information     144
Arm Position      144
Weight on the Heels     145
Natural Arches of the Feet     145
Bare Feet     146
Pregnancy     146
Insoles     146
Shoes     146
Spine Contour Confusion     146
Recap     149
Hip-Hinging     150
Anatomy of a Backache...     153
... and How to Avoid It     153
Benefits     155
Comparing Different Bending Styles     155
Instructions     156
Indications of Improvement     162
Troubleshooting     162
Bending is Painful     162
The Groove in Your Low Back Disappears as You Bend     162
The Groove in Your Low Back Gets Deeper as You Bend     163
Further Information     163
Hamstring Flexibility     163
Bending for Extended Periods     164
Bending While Sitting     164
Extra Weight     164
Hip-Hinging for Athletic Advantage     164
Training Children to Hip-Hinge     165
Recap     167
Glidewalking     168
Benefits     172
Instructions     174
Indications of Improvement     190
Troubleshooting     190
Feeling That You are Leaning Forward     190
Tendency to Tuck or Lead With the Pelvis     190
Unable to Coordinate Buttock Contraction and Forward Thrust     190
Difficulty Leaving Back Heel on the Floor     190
Losing Track of Your Posture     190
Cannot Coordinate all the Elements of Glidewalking     191
Further Information     191
Walking on One Line     191
Getting Extra Power in Your Stride     192
Running Like a Kenyan     192
Recap     193
Optional Exercises     195
Strengthening the Torso Muscles     197
Strengthening the Abdominal Muscles     197
Strengthening the Deep Muscles of the Back     204
Strengthening and Stretching the Muscles in the Shoulder Area     205
Strengthening the Neck Muscles     207
Stretching the Neck Muscles     207
Stretching the Key Muscles That Connect the Torso and Legs     208
Stretching the Hamstrings     208
Stretching the External Hip Rotator Muscles     210
Lengthening the Psoas     210
Strengthening Key Muscles Used in Walking      211
Strengthening the Arch Muscles     211
Strengthening the Gluteus Medius Muscles     213
Strengthening the Tibialis Anterior     214
Troubleshooting     215
Stiffness or Pain     215
Lack of Improvement     215
Failure to Exercise     215
Further Information     215
Anatomy     217
Glossary     220
Bibliography     223
Index     224
Summary Guide     226
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 12 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 12 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 5, 2008

    Finally Pain Free

    Esther Gokhale's book '8 Steps to a Pain Free Back' is a marvel.. At first glance it appears to be just another self help book on how to relieve common back pain. Upon reading it however, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that this is the most comprehensive and helpful book I have yet come across. Gokhale's technique which is grounded in sound anthropological study as she explains, our back problems are largely the result of our cultural habits. Apparently, only five to ten percent of people in certain other countries suffer from back pain, yet in American that number jumps to almost ninety percent. Why such a difference? Ms. Gokhale explains that poor habits and incorrect training are to blame and her technique for proper posture goes way beyond conventional American teachings. A victim of debilitating back pain and surgery herself, Ms. Gokhale both understands the pain many of us are going through, and genuinely wants to help. Her book is wonderfully illustrated with the most specific 'how to' techniques I have encountered. She not only guides the reader through not only what to do and what you should be feeling, but also explains symptoms of overdoing any given technique. She identifies specific muscles that need to be engaged for stability and strength in support of the discs. The book explains safe techniques for sitting, lying, bending, lifting and walking, activities we do all day long. She shows us how to preserve our knees and protect our hips as we age. As a person who has been doing yoga and seeing chiropractors for years in an attempt to overcome my own back injuries, I can safely say that this book has been incredibly effective in allowing me to resume a normal, pain free lifestyle. Once you begin integrating Ms. Gokhale's methods into your life you will be hooked and find yourself making corrections to your positioning all day long. I highly recommend this book it will create great habits that will last a lifetime.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 19, 2010

    A must have for so many

    As Gokhale points out, 90% of Americans suffer with back pain, and many could be helped by the information in this book. Beyond the average pain sufferer this would be a great addition to any massage therapist, physical therapist, yoga teacher and fitness professional's arsenal.
    Very clear and concise instructions, clear direct photos to follow and I love the brief wrap ups at the end of each section.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 6, 2008

    Heal painful back with better posture

    After 42 years of slouching while sitting and standing I was pretty sure that my bad posture was genetic and that I'd never be able to change it. Since I was in grade school I have never been able to stand or sit comfortably and now I know why. I wasn¿t doing it correctly. My mechanics were bad. If you look around, many people in this society appear to have the same problem. Bad posture is everywhere. By looking at people and cultures with good posture, Esther has figured out what the basic steps are for most anyone to achieve better posture. Her simple and effective mechanics-driven posture techniques work great. Simply by repositioning my body to her specifications in chairs, in bed or while standing has radically changed my thinking on posture. I think she is right: you're not born to bad posture you learn it. What is really cool is how easy it is to fix bad posture and learn good posture. For me the lessons were somewhat counterintuitive, but once I tried a few of them I knew that Esther was on to something. The book provides wonderful real life images and examples of good and bad posture. There are also relevant figures depicting the spine, etc. to illustrate her points. I no longer wake up with a stiff low back that takes half an hour to unwind. I wake up limber and refreshed. I no longer slouch every time I sit and fight muscle strain by constant fidgeting and repositioning. I am now working the proper posture techniques into my daily life with great success. I also feel like I¿ve found a sustainable way to use my for the next 40 years, where before I read the book I felt like I was wearing out my back way too soon. It feels right and looks great (no more hump when I bend over!). If you are considering surgery for pain relief or posture correction read this book first.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 22, 2013

    highly recommended

    life-changing effective common sense techniques to relieve pain without drugs or special costly equipment

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  • Posted November 22, 2013

    Simple solution to back pain

    The book is very easy to follow with lots of pictures to make sure you are doing the exercises properly. I was up one night with neck pain. I pulled out the book and did some recommended exercise and got enough relief to go back to sleep. Lasting results are suppose to come as you change the way you sit, stand and walk. I have not practiced the new patterns long enough to see that yet, but I already feel better when I sit, stand and walk the way Esther recommends. It is certainly a simple solution to back and neck pain.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 6, 2011

    I Also Recommend:

    Back Pain

    You're really better off with an evidence-based book like "Treat Your Own Spinal Stenosis" instead of a nobody who's best advice is one you've heard over and over: stand and sit up straight.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 17, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Straighten Up!

    As a former model, I have practiced "good posture" but to my surprise, I would have back pain on occasion. "8 Steps to a Pain-Free Back" is one of the most fascinating books I have ever read on the human anatomy. Esther Gokhale takes you on a highly visual journey around the world that shows people of other cultures doing hard labor. Unlike the west, these people are virtually pain-free with beautiful posture. Despite their status in the world, these people walk, stand and sit like royalty.<BR/>Gokhale teaches us in 8 steps how to correct our body structure through specifically designed exercises. I suggest getting this book BEFORE you experience back pain. And please give this book to anyone who is suffering from back pain. "8 Steps to a Pain-Free Back" by Esther Gokhale should be in everyone's library next to the Family Medical Guide.

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  • Posted January 25, 2009

    A Wonderful Help

    This book is dedicated "To the millions of people who suffer needlessly from back pain." Anybody in that category knows what they'd give to become--and stay--pain-free.<BR/><BR/>To my mind, here's a great book to help. Esther Gokhale offers natural posture solutions for pain in the back, neck, shoulders, hips, knees and feet. The book consists of eight lessons, meticulously explained, with beautiful illustrative photographs. Half of this large book consists of photos--many of people in non-Western societies standing, walking and bending in natural and harm-free ways. Everything discussed is illustrated--so nothing is too hard to understand.<BR/><BR/>How we sit, how we stand, bend, sleep--all are vital to our comfort and health. When we learn to maintain correct posture, we'll find we're moving out of the realms of misery, and into a situation of relief and health.<BR/><BR/>I really liked this book. There is just enough science for me to understand what my posture is doing to my body, and just enough explanation for me to understand what I can do to make things better. Changing habits is not automatic, of course--I know it takes time before the new ways feel natural. But when there's a blueprint before me, if I have any motivation, I can practise and learn what's healthy. <BR/><BR/>If you're looking for some relief, get this book. You will learn a lot--and you'll be so glad you did.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 3, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted May 18, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted August 21, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 8, 2010

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