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Review of 8 Steps to a Pain Free Back by Esther Gokhale

About.com Rating 4.5 Star Rating


Updated September 29, 2011

Ever wonder why indigenous people have such great posture?

Ever wonder why indigenous people have such great posture? Esther Gokhale reveals all in her book 8 Steps to a Pain Free Back.

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The Bottom Line

Esther Gokhale's book 8 Steps to a Pain Free Back is an easy read with lots of eye candy. It presents Gokhale's posture program, which is based on finding ideal alignment and taking undue pressure off the joints of the body. Her eight lessons range from "stretch lying" to "stack sitting" to "glide walking." I tried them all and got pain relief. This program may or may not be for you, depending on your condition, though.

Gokhale draws on her extensive experience with other cultures. She shows us how we in the West have all but lost our natural posture that, according to her, is what keeps back pain away.

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  • Great photos and diagrams.
  • Gives pause for thought on how we perform our most usual activities.
  • Makes the topic interesting by putting emphasis on the posture of people in other countries.


  • The moves she takes you through are not for everyone.
  • The book is loaded with testimionials, suggesting that some of the information may be biased.


  • 8 Steps to a Pain-Free Back by Esther Gokhale and Susan Adams
  • (c) 2008 Esther Gokhale
  • ISBN-13:9780979303609
  • Pendo Press
  • 227 pages

Guide Review - Review of 8 Steps to a Pain Free Back by Esther Gokhale

8 Steps to a Pain Free Back by Esther Gokhale, L.Ac. (L.Ac. stands for licensed acupuncturist) provides a refreshing take on a topic with which we as humans are very intimate: back pain.

Gokhale spent years doing research in tribal and traditional countries such as India, Burkina Faso, Portugal, Brazil and other places. In these areas, back pain is pretty much an unknown phenomenon. Gokhale attributes this to the way the people in those societies do their work (by manual labor).

For example, on page 4, she shows a village elder performing the task of harvesting chestnuts from the river, which is an activity Gokhale says the woman does for seven to nine hours each day. Gokhale also says the woman reports no back pain. Inherent in the worker’s bending movements is Gokhale’s "hip hinging," where the action is at the hips.

Experiences and observations such as this one helped Gokhale formulate her method of working, which she has been teaching for over 15 years in California. Her book is loaded with beautiful, colorful and interesting photos of native people, athletes and even Westerners with great posture. Gokhale functions as a kind of travel guide through the eight lessons, each focusing on one aspect of everyday movement – from "stretch sitting" to "glide walking."

Here’s the full list:

  • Stretch Sitting
  • Stretch Lying (On Back)
  • Stack Sitting
  • Stretch Lying (Side)
  • Using Your Inner Corset
  • Tall Standing
  • Hip Hinging
  • Glide Walking

In terms of posture education, Gokhale puts new names to things we already know. Her technique incorporates basic elements of alignment – pelvic position and accompanying spinal curves, supporting the back during sitting, lengthening the spine and more. But in each step-by-step lesson she combines movements, much like a recipe, to produce the intended results of pain-free movement and posture. I particularly like her use of tractioning the spine after going through the steps of positioning the pelvis the way she suggests. It felt great!

I do need to say that, to me at least, this book seems like an asset for those of us who are relatively healthy. But if you have problems getting up and down from the floor, you have strong fears of movement or you have damage to your spinal structures, check with your doctor before trying this program.

The design, layout and images of the book are just great. Even the weight of the book and the way it lays flat so you can easily reference the information while you practice the lessons is well done. And Gokhale uses eye candy liberally. In each chapter, there are clear step-by-step photos in the center. On the sides are images (mentioned above) of people from other countries, from our culture (usually to show what we need to improve on) as well as historical images.

Gokhale also provides diagrammatic illustrations so you can see what happens in the spine when you have good posture -- and when you have bad posture.

I’ve read a lot of posture books, and this one was the most fun to read by far and away.

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Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.
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