You want to believe and trust that your doctor has your best interest at heart.
You see him/her because you have back pain and have been referred to an orthopedist. You are hopeful that this specialist will give you the best advice for overcoming your problem with the least amount of stress to your body, while using the most conservative treatment approach, and come at a reasonable cost. What you most certainly don’t want (or expect) is for the new specialist to make your condition even worse. Well, I subscribe to a men’s health magazine, and recently I read an article in which an orthopedist could have made that exact mistake. He recommended a specific stretch for relieving stress when you work either on your feet or at a desk.
I don’t do surgery on people’s backs. In fact, my job is to keep people out of orthopedists’ offices. So, if what I am telling people to do isn’t correct they will not improve. In my world of helping people overcome back pain I have found a common distortion pattern when people must work at a desk all day. This pattern puts pressure not only into the joints and discs of the low-, mid- and upper-back, but also imbalances the surrounding muscles that stabilize these areas.
That is why I caution my patients to avoid certain positions and give them specific techniques for rebalancing the muscles that have been pulled out of their normal position from sitting, without compressing the low back and causing excruciating pain.
The one and only exercise that was demonstrated in the article I read nearly took my breath away. The exercise that was shown was one of the main exercises I caution my patients with low back pain to avoid.
It showed a person standing on a bench holding a weight in both hands and leaning forward with a rounded back. Now I don’t know the statistics on how successful this doctor is with his patients, but even if it was 100% I still would never recommend this technique for desk workers.
Why? Because it contradicts the body’s need for balance and correct alignment.
Why would you want to duplicate and exaggerate the position that is creating your pain in the first place?
Think about waking up in the morning and stretching out. Do you curl yourself up into a ball, round your back and bend forward? Or do you stand up and reach up above your head and stick out your chest and gently arch backwards?
I know the answer. And this is why the exercise that this doctor showed is so off the mark.
The Bottom Line: Don’t believe everything you are told or shown, especially when it comes to your health.