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Esther Gokhale's blog

J-spine Validated?

November, 2018

It’s rare to find well-preserved Neanderthal skeletal fragments. It’s especially rare to find well-preserved Neanderthal ribs and vertebrae since these bones are more fragile than skulls and limb bones. But ribs and vertebrae are particularly helpful for discerning the shape of this related species’s thoracic cage and spine.

The recent Kebara 2 Neanderthal find (nicknamed “Moshe”), with very well-preserved vertebrae and ribs, was a particularly exciting find. Patricia Kramer, professor and chair of anthropology at University of Washington, has created a 3-D image deducing what the shape of Moshe’s thorax must have been, and there are some surprises. One surprise is especially interesting: the Neanderthal lumbar spine was practically straight! This was a great surprise to the researchers since they were expecting that Neanderthals, who are quite... Read more

Don’t Stick Your Behind Out; It’ll Sway Your Back

November, 2018

My book has a lot of images of village Africans. This is because I travelled to Africa, which is in turn related to the fact that primal posture is better preserved in Africa than in most places, and certainly you find better posture in village Africa than in modern, industrial societies.

 


This woman’s J-spine is well intact; her L5-S1 curve is pronounced. L5-S1 curve varies by race and social posture influences.

 

Readers of my book sometimes have the mistaken impression that the work is about replicating the baseline shape of a village African. Though I state explicitly that the amount of L5-S1 curve varies by race and is also very individual, newcomers to... Read more

How to Text with Good Posture

October, 2018

There’s nothing inherently problematic about the activity of texting from a posture point of view. The problems arise because we have poor habits in how we hold objects in front of us, how we read, and also because what’s on our cell phones tends to be more compelling than other objects we might hold or read.

 

As this woman demonstrates pretty well, by holding the cell phone within her line of sight and maintaining posterior shoulders, there need be no threat to the neck, shoulders, arms, or upper back. If, however, we allow our head and neck to lean in excessively to the cell phone, break the line of our wrists, or allow our shoulders to reach forward to the cell phone, we could be inviting a plethora of health problems. These include wear and tear in the cervical discs, impingement of the cervical nerves, poor circulation to... Read more

4 Benefits of Carrying on the Head

September, 2018

Carrying weight on the head is a primal activity, something we have done for millions of years.

 

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Transporting water in the Ouahigouya marketplace, Burkina Faso, 1998.

 

I took an archeology course at Stanford from professor John Rick that included a workshop on stone knapping (chipping away at a stone to create arrowheads and similar tools). While most of us created pitiful arrowheads with no chance of any hunting success, a few members of the class hit the obsidian at productive angles that resulted in decent weapons. Professor Rick says that about 10 percent of his students intuitively know how to make good arrowheads. He believes that the relevant DNA for being good at this task has been conserved through the generations in these individuals. Making stone tools like... Read more

Why Positivity is Important in Learning Posture

August, 2018

Historically, teaching posture has involved nagging, scolding, and whipping youngsters and hapless underlings into shape. We’re overdue for a break from the questionable practices of the past, not only for sentimental reasons but also because the data available to us begs it.

 

  1. Positive reinforcement works better than negative reinforcement. What you focus on grows, and focusing on improvements keeps the improvements coming. Finding yourself in a slouched position from time to time is expected and doesn’t merit a lot of focus, except as a gentle trigger to make a healthy posture shift.


Positive reinforcement results in growth and motivates the upward trend to continue. Photo courtesy Pixabay.

 ... Read more

How to Lose Weight by Changing Your Posture

July, 2018

There are several ways the Gokhale Method helps a person lose weight. I discovered this benefit of the method from students reporting back to me that they had lost 10 pounds without changing anything other than their posture. This happened frequently enough that it set me thinking about possible mechanisms between J-spine posture and weight loss. There are no studies on posture and weight loss that I know of, so all the pathways described below are conjectures.

  1. Getting rid of pain enables and induces people to become more active. Our students almost routinely return to or take up a variety of athletic endeavors, yoga, dance, and more after getting rid of their back pain. Being active contributes directly and indirectly (better mood, better sleep, etc.) to weight loss.


After learning the Gokhale Method, many... Read more

Man's Best Friend for Posture, Part II

June, 2018

In the first installment of this story, we discussed some physical movement patterns that can be supported or reinforced by owning / walking / observing dogs. Here, we touch on a few more benefits from having a furry pet!


Carrying and Lifting

As a dog owner, you will find yourself needing to lift well. It may be to carry bags of dog food, a pup, or perhaps a much-loved elderly or sick dog. By following the postural principles of the Gokhale Method, you can do this without strain or fear of injury. The most important techniques for this context are hip-hinging, inner corset, and maintaining a healthy shoulder structure.

 


Carry your pet with shoulders back, close to your... Read more

How to do Pull-ups with Healthy Posture

June, 2018

Our company’s deepest goal is to support people in being more sturdy in the world. Posture is a key ingredient for this, as is fitness. It’s commendable when people take on a fitness regimen of any kind; the companion undertaking needs to be to learn how to do your regimen with good form.

People often sway their backs while doing pull-ups, especially towards the end of a set. This distorts your spine, loads your discs, and leads to a very unhappy back.
 


Monisha is wearing our Gokhale Spinetracker™ wearable device on her spine. The app (above, right) shows a visual representation of what is happening to your discs in real time. There is extra stress on the discs because of... Read more

Surprising Secret Sauce in the Journey to Pain-Free

May, 2018

After students complete the Foundations Course, we solicit feedback in order to learn from our students and make the course better. Here is select feedback from Marcie, who took the Group Foundations Course with Esther, punctuated by commentary from Esther.

 

I move easier. When I experience pain, I use it as information to make changes in what I am doing.

Our body is a very intricate 3-dimensional jigsaw puzzle and when we restore each piece back to its home, the parts fit together better.  Pain is a very sophisticated feedback mechanism that has evolved; pain is usually trying to tell us we need to be doing something differently.  

It's not been linear. Lower back pain decreased, upper back/shoulder pain increased. (That might be my standing desk and increased awareness, though.) I have body awareness but not always useful body awareness. A lot of the time, my awareness is... Read more

Man’s Best Friend for Posture, Part I

May, 2018

One of the great strengths of the Gokhale Method is that you learn it doing practical activities, like sitting and walking; you then practice it during your day-to-day life. Regular tasks like driving the car and household chores, and leisure activities like gardening and playing sports, become not only safe and comfortable, but actually therapeutic. If you are fortunate enough to live with a dog, you have a very special opportunity to hone your posture skills.

 


Daily dog walks are great training for your posture! Photo courtesy Pixabay.

 

Firstly, you will probably be walking your dog every day — maybe twice or even three times a day. The regular nature of this activity is a huge boon for establishing good postural habits. The assured minimal frequency of 1-3 times a day is... Read more