Muslim prayer staves off back pain, helps tackle stress – study
The traditional prayer ritual – which includes repeated bowing, kneeling and the placing of the forehead to the ground towards Mecca in Saudi Arabia – is performed up to five times a day by Muslims.
The latest study published in the International Journal of Industrial and Systems Engineering has shown that the process can be beneficial – and not only spiritually.
The movements of the prayer are “similar to those of yoga or physical therapy intervention exercises used to treat lower back pain,” study co-author and Binghamton University professor Mohammad Khasawneh said.
“Prayer can eliminate physical stress and anxiety, while there is also research that indicates prayer rituals can be considered an effective clinical treatment of neuro-musculoskeletal dysfunction,” he noted.
The paper, titled ‘An ergonomic study of body motions during Muslim prayer using digital human modeling’, used computer-generated human models of healthy Indian, Asian, and American men and women to research the effects of the prayer movements on their lower back areas.
Despite finding that the bowing moves place a large strain on the back, the research notes that for people with lower back pain it can have a positive effect.
“The movement can be safely considered a clinical treatment for low back pain, as it requires different movements of the human body on a regular basis," Khasawneh said.
According to the study, the kneeling posture – called ‘sujud’ – appears to stimulate the elasticity of joints.
The scientists are now apparently planning to widen the scope of their experiments by using sensors and cameras to look into the stresses of the individual parts during Muslim prayers.