I was asked to write about the five best books for dealing with back pain; that implied I needed to find them first.

  • How does one know which are best?
  • How does one even define “best” in the first place?

For the purposes of our endeavor, we’ll define “best” as those rated the highest by reader reviews. While “official reviews” by big name sources like the New York Times add a lot of credibility on a wide scale level, I find reviews from the average population more telling.

I’ve chosen to look for books with different approaches to relieving back pain, this was done because not everyone has the same ideas on how the body should be cared for or may want a different road to investigate.  In doing research for previous articles it seemed to me that there were several different “realms” of relief. I settled for the following five that made the most sense to me:

  1. Mindfulness Based

It has become apparent to many people that chronic pain (and even illness) can be the result of the inner workings of the mind – note that mind is NOT the same as the brain.  Stress, depression, anxiety and many other emotionally charged head spaces can cause a physical manifestation. So for those that may need to have the whole mind AND body involved in back pain relief (of which I am one) this is the “realm” you would find most beneficial.

  1. Yoga/Pilates/Stretching

I have split yoga out from mindfulness because it fits more appropriately here with similar methods such as Pilates and stretching. Many times back pain (or knee pain, shoulder pain etc.) may be caused by a tightening of the joints and ligaments or a lack of lubrication of those joints.

Yoga, Pilates and stretching can be great ways to learn to loosen up the body, gain more flexibility and decrease pain without being incredibly strenuous.

  1. Scientific/Academic

As one who is constantly searching for the “reason” for things, this method of back pain relief is based on science, body mechanics and physical explanations for pain. While this is a more tedious approach, learning how the body is connected, how the parts of the body interact with one another, can be helpful in answering questions such as: “what part of my body is this EXACTLY?”, “what can cause dis-ease in that area?” and so many more.

It is never too late to learn!

  1. Self-Massage

Massage is a great way to loosen the tension in muscles, allow more oxygenated blood to flow and to relieve pain, not to mention relieve stress. Massages can also be costly and for those with chronic back pain getting a $50, hour long massage every week or every other week may not be realistic for the budget.

I chose this “realm” so that perhaps some of the same benefits of massage can be had at home and performed by oneself but in a confident manner.

  1. Training

For the athletes or those that prefer a more regimented, gym-style program this is the way to go. Many people find a mapped out plan for each day/week/month easier to follow as well as stick to.  Much like having a personal trainer, if they have a specific activity that needs to be done on a certain day, even a certain time, they feel they are more accountable and in control.

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My top 5 Best Books

So, let’s get to it, I’m going to break down the rest of this article by book (of course), somewhat I call “vital stats”, a synopsis of each one, a little background of the author to lend to their authority, where to purchase and for how much and their consumer ratings from four different sites where possible.

Note: You can read the first part of the books on Amazon.com before considering purchasing any of the books, so keep that in mind!

1) Healing Back Pain: The Mind-Body Connection by John Sarno, M.D.

mindbody connection healing the back healing the pain john e. sarno m.d

  • Published: February 1, 1991
  • Number of pages: 208
  • About the Author:
    • Former professor of Rehab Medicine at New York University School of Medicine
    • Attending physician at Howard A. Rusk Institute of Rehab Medicine at New York University Medical Center
  • Synopsis: Dr. Sarno describes how the mind and psychological factors can cause back pain specifically and explains how one can alleviate the pain without medication or surgery.  He helps to recognize the causes of stress that can be the actual source of back pain; for that very reason I believe this book is my favorite.  I am always trying to become more aware of the body and how the mind can affect it.


  • Purchase from:
    • Amazon: Kindle (here) and Paperback version (here) and audio-CD (here)
  • Ratings:
    • Amazon: Check out Amazon.com ratings for the book (here)
    • Barnes & Noble: with a total of 39 reviews it has an average rating of 4 out of 5
    • Google Play Books: total number of ratings here is 33 and the average rating is a 4.2 out of 5
    • Goodreads: so far the total reviews via goodreads.com is 2139 and this book was given an average rating of 4.03 out of 5


2) Yoga for Back Pain by Loren Fishman, M.D. and Carol Ardman

Yoga for Back Pain by Loren Fishman, M.D. and Carol Ardman

  • Published: May 14, 2012
  • Number of pages: 208
  • About the Author:
    • Past president of New York Society of Physical Medicine and Rehab
    • Assistant Clinical Professor at Columbia Medical School
    • Studied yoga in India with BKS Iyengar
  • Synopsis:
    In this book the author lays out and describes 9 different causes of back pain.  Then, through diagnosis-specific yoga poses, he helps to target your specific type of pain.  What I enjoy about this is that the poses are not only explained but also illustrated to make them easier to understand and follow.


  • Purchase from:
    • Amazon: Kindle (here) and Paperback version (here)
    • Audible: Not in their “library” as of this writing
  • Ratings
    • Amazon: Check out Amazon.com ratings for the book (here)
    • Goodreads: There have been 57 consumer reviews that gave this book an average rating of 3.79 out of 5

3) Anatomy Trains: Myofascial Meridians for Manual and Movement Therapists by Thomas Myers

Anatomy Trains: Myofascial Meridians for Manual and Movement Therapists by Thomas Myers

  • Published: November 1, 2001
  • Number of pages: 308
  • About the Author:
    • Studied movement and martial arts
    • Practiced integrative manual therapy for 40 years
    • Member of the International Association of Structural Integrators
    • Member of the Health Advisory Board for Equinox
    • Certified Touch-in-Parenting Instructor – perinatal issues relating to movement
  • Synopsis:
    Mr. Myers has laid this book out to be comprehensive but also easy to follow, whether you have any prior science knowledge or not.  Through this you will learn how the body is connected and how those connections affect posture and pain.  I enjoy books that give me the black and white, books that truly explain HOW something works, why and what happens when something goes wrong.  Not many things in my world are purely black and white, so this is refreshing but not overwhelming.


  • Purchase from:
    • Amazon: Kindle (here) and Paperback version (here)
  • Ratings:
    • Amazon: for an scientific/academic type publication I was surprised to find this rating and number of reviews. For Amazon.com ratings click (here)
    • Barnes & Noble: Two people have left reviews here and for those two people the average review was a 4 out of 5
    • Google: 22 people read this publication and the average rating is 4.6 out of 5
    • Goodreads: again I was surprised by the number of reviews left here. 659 people left their thoughts and gave the book an average rating of 4.48 out of 5


4) The Amazing Tennis Ball Back Pain Cure by Justin Price

The Amazing Tennis Ball Back Pain Cure by Justin Price

  • Published: September 16, 2013
  • Number of Pages: 147
  • About the Author:
    • Biomechanics specialist
    • Foremost authority in corrective exercise featured in Time Magazine, New York Times, Discovery Health, WebMD and more
  • Synopsis:
    I have read about using a tennis ball for relieving pain or discomfort in the body prior to this book however, not many lay people truly know where to place the ball to achieve maximum relief.  Being the expert in biomechanics that he is, Mr. Price explains not only where to place the tennis ball but also helps one UNDERSTAND the underlying causes of the back pain one feels.  Understanding is key before you go about trying to find relief, otherwise the pain could be made worse.


  • Purchase from:
    • Amazon: Kindle (here) and Paperback version (here)
    • Audible: Not in their “library” as of this Writing
  • Ratings:
    • Amazon: Check out Amazon.com ratings for the book (here)
    • Barnes & Noble: not many reviews for this book either but of the 3 people that did leave comments the average rating is a perfect 5
    • Google: no reviews. Perhaps I will take the time to add my own reviews on Google.
    • Goodreads: the total number of reviewers here is 29 and collectively they gave the average rating of 4.07 out of 5


5) Low Back Pain Program: Effective Targeted Exercises for Long Term Pain Relief  by Sherwin Nicholson

Low Back Pain Program: Effective Targeted Exercises for Long Term Pain Relief  by Sherwin Nicholson

  • Published: July 3, 2014
  • Number of Pages: 159
  • About the Author:
    • Medical Research Scientist for 20 plus years
    • Specialized in Vascular Surgery Research at Toronto General Hospital
    • Stereotactic Brain Surgery at the Hospital for Sick Children
  • Synopsis:
    This book is set up much like those “fitness challenges” that you’ve seen going around. You will get progression charts which are incredibly motivating as you see actual changes. You get outlines for different mobility levels and a cut and dry set of expectations for this program. There is the added bonus of a website to supplement your practice: lowbackpainprogram.com, which this author will be using as the next personal fitness challenge.  The back is an important part of the body and needs to be cared for just like the legs and the abs!


  • Purchase from:
    • Amazon: Kindle (here) and Paperback version (here)
    • Barnes & Noble
    • Audible: not in their “library” as of this Writing
  • Ratings:
    • Amazon: Check out Amazon.com ratings for the book (here)
    • Barnes & Noble: surprisingly no reviews have been left on barnesandnoble.com
    • Google: yep, it’s official, I will be adding my two cents to each of these books. Nothing to report here either.
    • Goodreads: 4 people thought this books was collectively a 4.25 out of 5

Being a bibliophile, I’m always excited to find new books and I do have a propensity toward the “self betterment” genre so to have a whole set that can help me increase my quality of life is exciting to me! I hope you find some benefit here as well!

Leave a comment and join the discussion of which books on the topic you like! Do you agree with my list?


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