1_373_POSTURE_GURU_ADV12_1-300x0Matt Drudge recently noted an anniversary of his aggregator news site with a Twitter post: “18 years of DRUDGE REPORT in February! And STILL sitting ;).”

Drudge, 46, hasn’t just been sitting for two decades. Like so many workers chained to their technology, he has been hunched over desktops, notebooks, smartphones and tablets, and it’s all taken a toll on his body. He tries to limit the time he spends sitting to four or five hours a day, but sometimes he sits for up to 17 hours.

To ease his back, neck and shoulder pain, Drudge says, he has learnt how to adjust his posture. Whether he’s typing in the car, from the wooden folding chair in his Miami home office or from a boardwalk bench at the beach on cloudy days, he makes sure to tilt the top of his pelvis forward, roll his shoulders back, elongate his spine and straighten his craned neck.

Drudge is one of thousands of people who have trained with Esther Gokhale, a posture expert in Silicon Valley. She believes that people suffer from pain and dysfunction because they have forgotten how to use their bodies. It’s not the act of sitting for long periods that causes us pain, she says, it’s the way we position ourselves.

Gokhale is not helping aching office workers with high-tech gadgets and medical therapies. Rather, she says she is reintroducing her clients to what she calls “primal posture” — a way of holding themselves that is shared by older babies and toddlers and that she says was common among our ancestors before slouching became a way of life. It is also a posture that Gokhale observed during research she conducted in a dozen other countries, as well as in India, where she was raised.

spine-300x0For a method based not on technology but primarily on observations of people, it has been embraced by an unlikely crowd: executives, board members and staff at some of Silicon Valley’s biggest companies, including Google and Oracle; and heavy users of technology such as Drudge.

“I need to do things that make sense and that I can see results from. Esther’s work is like that,” says Susan Wojcicki, 44, one of Google’s senior vice-presidents, who has suffered from back and neck pain that she attributes to doing too much work at her desk.

Gokhale is not the first to suggest that changing posture is the key to a healthy spine. Practitioners of the Alexander Technique and the creators of the Aplomb Institute in Paris similarly help clients find more natural and comfortable ways to position themselves…

For many office workers, sitting at a desk all day goes hand in hand with back, neck and shoulder discomfort. Stress and poor positioning can bring on aches or exacerbate injuries among workers faced with heavy computing, frequent travel and long meetings. Regardless of occupation or lifestyle, backaches affect most Americans — about 8 in 10 deal with the pain at some point in their lives, according to Richard Deyo, a professor of family medicine at Oregon Health and Science University.



This article was written by Amy Schoenfeld for the Sydney Morning Herald Culture section.

The original article can be found here.

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