dr jazini recording a podcast ep 60

Truth or Trend: A Spine Surgeon’s Take on Back Pain Relief Hacks

Have you ever been sucked into a social media video promising to cure your back pain? With statistics showing back pain on the rise, it’s no wonder that home hacks are trending and going viral online. Thousands of videos with millions of views claim to know why you’re hurting and offer numerous ideas to relieve your pain. But with so much user-generated content these days, what can you really believe? Let’s break down some of the hottest trending topics and viral videos to help you figure out what’s helpful and what’s not.

They say sitting is the new smoking, which might explain the enormous growth and popularity of walking pads or walking desks. Are they the key to solving the problem of our sedentary lives or are there risks to consider? We’re walking and talking about it with VSI Spine Surgeon Dr. Ehsan Jazini in this episode. 

Retrowalking/backwards walking (Example with 1.8M views)

This trend started on FitTok in 2023 and is still going strong in 2024 but does walking backwards have all the health benefits influencers claim?

Look — there’s not a lot of strong data on this. But overall — I think backwards walking can be good for core strength and your overall health. It shouldn’t harm your back either if you’re doing it in a safe way.

But — walking backwards on a treadmill or outside, does likely increase the chances of tripping or bumping into things since you can’t see where you’re going. There are much MUCH safer ways to strengthen your core and ultimately keep your back safe. I’m a self-proclaimed Yogi and can’t advocate more for the power of a strong core.

Does the perfect sleep position exist? — (Example with 10.4M views)

My New Year’s resolution was to prioritize sleep and in doing, I want to make sure I’m doing it the right way.

  • So, does the perfect sleeping position exist? Sort of. Sleeping on your back really is best. That’s what I always try to do. Personally I like to start by trying to fall asleep on my side and then usually, I roll onto my back for most of the night.
  • Pillow under your knees — good or bad? It’s good and can provide some very helpful support.
  • Mountain climber position and sleeping on your stomach — good or bad? The answer is — they’re not great. Sleeping on your stomach requires you to twist your neck and that, combined with the position of your body can make it hard for your back and neck to really relax.

Does walking in high heels reduce back pain or cause it? (Example with 7.6M views)

There are lots of videos with millions of views talking about how high heels worsen back pain. There are also videos of people saying walking in high heels cures their back pain because lessens force on their heels.

Here’s the deal. While heels may be fashionable, they are not your back’s best friend. Here’s why: wearing high heels actually shortens the calf muscle and the tightness in that muscle impacts your hamstring, which then impacts your hips and works it way to your back.

If you’re a high heel lover — I encourage you to wear them in moderation. Heading to a gala or a night on the town? Bring a pair of flats and switch it up.

As for videos online suggesting that cushion pads will make all the difference. I’m skeptical of that and of the videos claiming that taping your 3rd and 4th toe together will eliminate pain too.

Can you decompress your spine? There are 3.2M views on a video about decompressing your spine. Decompression is okay and there’s nothing wrong with trying it this way on the kitchen counter. But there are other ways to do this that may be more comfortable for patients with maybe a shoulder or upper body injury or weakness. Can you hop in a swimming pool? That’s a great way to decompress your spine. A physical therapist can likely help you find stretches at home that will do it too. So again — this method isn’t harmful but there are other ways to achieve the same results.

Can you stretch out back pain in seconds? There are 15.5M views on this video and millions of views of videos saying you can stop back pain in seconds with a specific stretch — often of the SI Joint. So, is it actually possible to eliminate back pain in seconds? Probably not in seconds. But I do LOVE stretching and believe deeply in its power to make a huge difference in people’s lives.

I also don’t think any one stretch is enough. I recommend doing it for 5 minutes before and 5 minutes after a workout. You need to allow time to really let muscles relax. When I do it, I like to do 5 different positions, do each position on my left and right side and hold each position for at least 30 seconds. Joints don’t automatically unlock. You also want to really hit the big muscle chains like your posterior muscle, your knee, your ankle, your hamstrings, your shoulders and then your back.

While I doubt the claim that stretches eliminate back pain in seconds, Tik Tok can be a fabulous resource for new stretches to add variety to your workout.

The viral criss cross chair. You’ve probably seen videos like this one that got 17.4M views. I get it — the chair is nice looking. My concern is that there doesn’t appear to be much lumbar support to protect the lower back. If you’re working in that position for a few hours or binging on some Netflix — sitting with that posture for prolonged periods of time could lead to some lower back aggravation.

I also see a lot of videos about exercise ball chairsI love exercise balls. They’re a great tool and they might be good to use for a short period of time but I’d think twice about making it your permanent office chair. That would likely cause some back pain because it requires so much core strength to use and has no back support.

Sitting is the new smoking. You hear this claim a lot — in videos like this — 18.2K videoSo is sitting really as bad as smoking? The truth is — probably not. It isn’t necessarily the sitting that’s the problem — it’s actually the sedentary aspect of life that is the problem. Inevitably there will be periods of our day where we must sit. However, we need to prioritize movement into our day-to-day routines creatively. One creative hack to help with that is these new walking pads — my team has one here that I’ve jumped on and it’s a clever way to keep your body moving in the office or home-office setting, especially when the weather is inclement.

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