women stretching

I stumbled across an ad on a popular website that had an image of a women stretching and the following text:

“Chiropractors Baffled: Simple Stretch Ends Years Of Back Pain” 

I just had to click on it. If just one stretch could do this, I might be out of business soon…

Unfortunately the ad leads to a painful 46 minute long video that doesn’t show a single stretch and then eventually encourages you to pay for a “Back to Life Complete Healthy Back System”, how surprising.

In the video, the lady goes on about how chronic back pain had been an issue in her life and how a stretching routine she invented has since kept her pain-free for years. That’s great and all but one person is a small sample size. When it comes to back pain, what works for one person often doesn’t work for the next.

Back pain is one of the top reasons people take time off work. Google “back pain” and you’ll likely see major pharmaceutical companies advertising their medications at the top of the results. It’s a big business. People in pain just want relief and are more willing to pay the price to rid themselves of it. The Back To Life program goes one step further and floods the internet with numerous affiliated reviews, all talking about why you should try the program. Affiliated reviews are meaningless since the reviewer gets paid for any purchases made by people directed to the purchase page through the review site. So naturally the reviewer talks up the product as much as they can to try and make money. If you’re the kind of person who heads to google for an outsider’s opinion on products, then these “reviews” may convince you that it’s worth your money.

I’ll admit that I am “baffled”; not by the content but by the tactics used by these advertisers. Unfortunately these tactics are all too common on the internet and not just for back pain. Everyday you’re bound to come across similar styled “one simple trick” ads for skin care products, exercise supplements, miracle fruit, weight loss secrets and more. All preying on people’s insecurities or disabilities to try and squeeze money from their pockets. Sadly, people must fall for their ruse since these ads keep popping up.

It is true that exercising (including stretching routines/yoga) is generally one of the best forms of treatment for sub-acute and chronic lower back pain. So yes, if you’ve had back pain for months but lack any form of regular exercise, try to ease into it. Even walking or doing light yoga for 30 minutes a day will possibly give you some relief. If that doesn’t aggravate it then try increasing the intensity with jogging or gym classes. Exercise brings many benefits in addition to back pain relief.

Both chiropractic treatment and stretching can help with certain causes of back pain, but there is no simple magic cure that removes all causes of pain in every individual. “One simple stretch” isn’t going to help the majority of back pain cases. A variety of issues can result in the feeling of pain in the back, and sometimes certain stretches or exercises may actually worsen the pain or be dangerous, particularly if it is acute (pain that has been present for under 3 months).

I frequently give out stretching and exercise advice to patients because I know that it will be beneficial. Conditions such as piriformis syndrome, weak or overactivated muscles and postural issues can all lead to pain and can all usually be helped by stretching/exercising, often more so than the actual physical chiropractic treatment. The issue is that many people don’t know the specific reason they’re feeling pain. Find out the cause, then you can figure out how best to manage and treat it.

If you have back pain that is impacting your way of living, I’d advise you to seek a healthcare professional for treatment, or even just advice. If that doesn’t work then seek a second opinion.

Just try not to be tricked by all the BS marketing out there.