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My Favorite Instruction Manual - Livin' the Good Life

Feb. 17th, 2011

06:04 pm - My Favorite Instruction Manual

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It turns out that EIGHT STEPS TO A PAIN-FREE BACK BY Esther Gokhale is now my most-read book ever! I've read parts of it every day since November! I kid you not! The book is divided into eight chapters (steps) and I have been through each one with a fine-toothed comb, word-by-word, many times now. The reason I've done this is that it is utterly FASCINATING to me, and I learn something new each time. It is telling me in detail how to RESTRUCTURE my entire body. It instructs me about what to do with my eyes, my head, my neck, my shoulders, arms, torso, butt, knees, ankles, and even my arches while I'm sitting, standing, lying down, bending and walking. Every little detail has to be consciously attended to in every position. So, I spend a lot of time re-reading every sentence to make sure I'm not missing something. And then I pour over the multitude of pictures that demonstrate people in primitive cultures who are naturally doing whatever the author is describing. The pictures are candid, not posed. And the people are absolutely beautiful in their modeling of perfect posture and movement. I think, just for the fun of it, I'm going to describe some of the ideas in the book which especially appeal to me, and that may be new to my readers.

First example: One of the main premises of the book is that we are not to "tuck" our butts under. Evidently, this is the opposite advice from what other posture instructors teach. Instead, we need to stick our butts OUT. Not a lot, but enough to notice. The author says she tells her children to "Use your ducky butt, not your tucky butt!" Her reasoning is that in cultures where people naturally do this, they experience almost no back pain. There is supposed to be a slight outward curve between your last lumbar vertbrea and the sacrum. Most of us have terrible posture in this regard. And no wonder, our culture models slouching everywhere we look. Our furniture encourages tucked bottoms. We slouch big-time into our furniture which makes our shoulders come forward, and our heads along with them. Our spine then forms a "C" shape, which eventually equals PAIN! This means I need to get all new furniture! All my furniture encourages slouching in the name of "comfort". I recently went searching for chairs that I could use in the living room that allowed good posture and I found some.... for $15 each at Costco! They are simple metal folding chairs that have upholstry on the seat and back. The feature that makes them work is the open place in the back where you can let your bottom stick out. They are very comfortable, and I find I can sit in them for an hour of TV without the least bit of pain or discomfort. And when I get up, I don't feel stiff. I usually feel quite stiff in my low back when I get up from our couches or our easy chair after that amount of time.

Next example: How to sleep. I'm a side-sleeper, so I'm instructed to sleep with my spine stretched (she tells you exactly how to do that), my legs slightly bent, and, the most important and difficult-to-get-used-to part: lay your top arm along the top of your side that is up. Normally, we let our top arm fall forward on to the bed, which compresses the rib cage making it harder to get full breaths while we sleep AND reinforces slouching shoulders for hours and hours each night. With the top arm along your side which is up, your shoulders are in perfect alignment. Now that I do this regularly, I really notice when my shoulder is in the correct position and it's becoming more natural for me.
These are two very simple changes that can be made to correct one's posture doing every day things. There are hundreds of them! All equally interesting. I'll write about a few others in my next post.