As individuals age, some of the initial ailments to occur revolve around reduced movement and pain in the lower back region and in joints. However, study co-author and Binghamton University professor, Mohammad Khasawneh, has found a possible solution to reduce these ailments. Dr. Khasawneh believes that the physical repetitive movements of Islamic prayer reduce lower back pain and increase joint elasticity, if performed correctly.
This doesn’t come as much of a surprise since Islamic prayer encompasses not only the wellbeing of our mind, but also our body. Muslims engage their bodies and spirit during the prayer ritual. It’s an act known to be soothing to the body, mind, and spirit and serves as a form of discipline to help schedule our day. The fact that prayer is meant to be performed a minimum of five times throughout the day also gives Muslims time to de-stress and tune into their spirituality.
The Islamic prayer is composed of a series of repetitive movements. Dr. Khasawneh states, “One way to think about the movements is that they are similar to those of yoga or physical therapy intervention exercises used to treat lower back pain.”
Working with other researchers, Dr. Khasawneh published, “An ergonomic study of body motions during Muslim prayer using digital human modelling,” in the latest issue of the International Journal of Industrial and System Engineering. To study the effects of back pain, they used computer-generated human models of healthy Indian, Asian, and American men and women.
The different movements in the Islamic prayer have shown to have some effect in decreasing pain in the lower back and joint problems. For example, the sujood, or kneeling position encourages the elasticity of joints. So far, the study has looked at how the prayer ritual affects a healthy body, but has yet to see how varying rituals can affect pain in physically disabled individuals.
Dr. Khasawneh adds, “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.”
As the study continues, they aim to widen their scope on identifying the stresses of individual parts in the Islamic prayer by using cameras and sensors.
These studies contribute to the growing field of biotheology, connecting religious practices with modern biological principles. Looking to the future, will this research see a possible development of physical therapy treatments modeled after the Islamic prayer? Only time will tell.