Personal Notes on Back Pain
13 Aug 2018
Stretching & Relaxation

Mind-Body Connection: Art Brownstein has written Healing Back Pain Naturally: The Mind-Body Program Proven to Work (320 pages, 2001) — strong positive reviews at Amazon! Art emphasizes the mind-body connection. He explains that the vast majority of back pain is muscular. Stress sends signals to muscles to tighten up and become stiff. Over prolonged periods of time, such stiffness becomes permanent, resulting in pain. Acute pain is best handled by short term measures like rest and possibly medications. In contrast, chronic pain can be managed only by long term commitment to daily stretching exercises and meditation-style deep relaxation exercises.

Art's personal story is interesting. He was an army doctor who started having sciatica and back pain. Several months later, his pain had become quite severe. He had to crawl to go to the restroom! He took a break for several months, visited a yoga ashram in India, healed completely, returned to USA and started teaching his patients how to successfully recover from back pain.

Stress management: Healing Back Pain: The Mind Body Connection by John Sarno describes the emotional reasons for back pain. Amazon reviews are very positive. I have not read this book by John Sarno. I read a different title by him in 1998. I agree with his general philosophy.

Relaxation Response: Herbert Benson coined the term Relaxation Response in 1975. This should be compared with Fight or Flight Response, a term coined around 1920. At Amazon, you may check out Books by Herbert Benson. I read one of his earliest books where he provided lots of citations to medical literature. Don't remember the exact title.


A friend of mine ran into serious back pain a few months ago. He pointed me to Esther Gokhale. Her recent book has received glowing reviews: 8 Steps to a Pain-Free Back (244 pages, 2008). Esther had sciatic pain when she had her first child. Surgeries did not help her. She then delved deeper into the relationship betweeen posture and back pain in various parts of the world. She now runs a studio in Palo Alto, CA.

Esther gave a talk at Google (youtube). Esther points out that diagrams of the spine have become 'S'-shaped in western medical textbooks. The spine was drawn much straighter 100 years ago. Esther shows photographs from ancient sculptures and modern day inhabitants of different countries to show what a healthy back looks like. Kids of all cultures have straight backs. Esther's observations are in harmony with Qi Gong philosophy and instructions.

My question is: Can posture be improved successfully by making small adjustments to how we sit and stand? Or is good posture a natural side effect of regular yoga-like exercises? I believe in the latter approach: good posture is possible only when we build requisite muscles to hold our body together properly. Such muscles can be built only by whole body exercise systems like yoga.


Yoga Teacher in Silicon Valley: Vasanthi Bhat is well-known for addressing back pain. She holds classes in San Jose and Cupertino — Schedule of classes: for adults and for families.

Qi Gong Teacher in Silicon Valley: Joe Deisher at Integrated Healing Arts, Palo Alto, is a wonderful Qi Gong teacher. He holds classes in Palo Alto, Los Altos and Redwood City — Schedule of classes. Joe is one of the founders of Integrated Healing Arts (IHA) in Palo Alto. IHA brings together 25+ practitioners of complementary therapy.

© Copyright 2008—2018, Gurmeet Manku.