New York (IINA) - Scientists have shown that praying to Makkah five times a day if done properly, can reduce pain in the lower back.
The prayer ritual, the Salat, is one of the five obligatory pillars of the faith and is supposed to be performed daily by 1.6 billion Muslims all over the world.
Now scientists have shown that if it is done regularly and appropriately, with the right knee and back angles, it can have a significant effect on pain reduction. Professor and Systems Science and Industrial Engineering Department Chair Mohammad Khasawneh at the University of Binghamton carried out the interfaith research along with colleagues from the Penn State Behrend and the University of Minnesota Crookston.
Prof Khasawneh said: "One way to think about the movements is that they are similar to those of yoga or physical therapy intervention exercises used to treat low back pain. "Physical health is influenced by socioeconomic, lifestyle and religious factors.
"Moreover, studies indicate that there is a strong association between prayer and vigilance about maintaining a physically healthy lifestyle. Prayer can eliminate physical stress and anxiety, while there is also research that indicates prayer rituals can be considered an effective clinical treatment of neuromusculoskeletal dysfunction."
Researchers looked at the movements of computer-generated digital human models of healthy Indian, Asian, and American men and women, and models with lower back pain, according to media reports.
They found that the bowing portion is the most stressful on the lower back, but for those with lower back pain, using proper knee and back angles during the ritual can reduce the discomfort.
Prof Khasawneh added: "The maximum compression forces created during prayer postures is much lower than National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) safety limits, and the movements can be safely considered a clinical treatment for low back pain, as it requires different movements of the human body on a regular basis.
"Based on the pain level, a combination of back and knee angles can be identified with the kneeling posture (sujud) increasing the elasticity of joints.
"It is recommended for these individuals to spend more time in the kneeling posture."
And of course doing this five times a day has added benefit.
The paper, published in the latest issue of the International Journal of Industrial and Systems Engineering, says pain relief is only possible if the prayer is done correctly.
The researchers said that using incorrect angles and movements can actually increase pain.
And they conceded that for those with back pain, maintaining correct prayer postures may not be possible.
According to Islamic traditions and practices, if individuals cannot stand, they are allowed to pray seated or laying.
But if they are able to stand, they should maintain correct postures as much as they can.
They said that further study is needed for the physically disabled and pregnant women to find the best movements for these groups.
The group plans to validate the further findings with physical experiments using sensors and cameras to track the stresses on the individual body parts during the prayer ritual.
Source: International Islamic News Agency