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Posted by on May 1, 2017 in Health, My Blog | 0 comments

The Lack of Back Pain in African Cultures

Many people view the country of Africa as being backwards, and slow to progression. They will refer to Africa as being a ‘third world’ country, and assume that there is nothing good about it at all and the overall health is poor. However, there are many things that the natives of Africa could teach us. For instance, there is the secret of why some indigenous tribes in Africa do not suffer from back pain. How can this be? This article will delve more into the topic and offer some possible explanations.

Back Pain

Back Pain

Back pain is a pretty generic condition that millions of people suffer with, or will experience within their lifetime. It can be caused by strained muscles, spending a prolonged amount of time in the same position, or health problems such as degenerative disc disease. Back pain can negatively affect the quality of life, and can last for years. Often, it is difficult to cure back pain completely. Typically, the treatment involves pain medication, and trying to prevent it from escalating further.

Indigenous Tribes

Spinal Bones

Cultures in different countries in the world have very low rates of back pain. As well, as the population ages, the discs in their backs show little sign of degeneration. This is confusing, because in these cultures, much of the work that is done involves bending and crouching close to the ground. An acupuncturist named Ester Gokhale traveled to villages in West Africa and discovered something interesting. The natives who lived there had a J-shaped spine, instead of an S-shape, which is common in western countries. These people were not suffering from back pain, and so Ester developed exercises for people to gradually change the shape of their spine. Some of the exercises follow.

Shoulder Roll

Shoulder rolls are the first step that you can take to improve your posture. Do not scrunch your shoulders forward, with your arms in front of your body. This is poor posture, and will lead to back pain. Instead, try a shoulder roll. Pull your shoulders up, and then push them back. Then you just let them drop, which will position your arms by your side. Remembering to do this method will help with posture.

Do Not Sit Up Straight

Contrary to popular belief, sitting up perfectly straight will not help your posture. Instead, it will compress your spine, and make things worse. According to Ester’s exercise, simply try a shoulder roll and take a deep breath. This will stretch your spine, and nothing will get compressed.


There are many things that African cultures can teach us, proper posture being one of them. Shoulder rolls and not sitting up straight are two suggestions that Ester Gokhale discovered which worked. However, there are others as well. If you are curious about them, you could do a little extra research on the topic. Taking care of your spine is very important in the long run, because back pain is definitely not a fun thing to have.