Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login

As someone who long suffered from back pain, I studied all the relevant techniques -- Alexander, Feldenkrais, Structural Integration, and more. And they work in pieces, but they're different and confusing and each seem to claim to be able to solve more than any of them can individually.

But for anyone reading this comment, there are two things I want to share, from hard-won experience:

1) Back pain and posture are incredibly complex and counter-intuitive, and come from a complex interplay of biomechanics, perception, and emotion. Anyone who says "just sit up straighter" or "just strengthen your core" or "use a standing desk" or "stretch more" or "it's a muscle imbalance, go to the gym" or "do yoga" doesn't know anything. Even if you think one of these helped you, it depends on the individual and they can do even more harm than good depending on the person. I think there's even more popular quackery in posture and back pain than there is in nutrition, and that's saying a lot. Even most doctors don't have the slightest clue -- which should be self-evident, given how many people have back pain and how it's not getting fixed.

2) The best place to start is "The New Rules of Posture: How to Sit, Stand, and Move in the Modern World" by Mary Bond. [1] It's the only book I've come across that takes the right holistic approach, but still maintains respect for "hard" science, explains the theory (medically, not according to any "school") but also gives you guided exercises. Start there, and then once you've gained a decent understanding of your body, you'll be in a place where you can figure out what more specific techniques you need, if you do (e.g. whether Alexander technique or psychotherapy).

[1] https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1594771243

Thammas Hannas Somatics is pretty good as well, for a fairly scientific approach (the theory is that a lot of it is in your mind, so its never going to come across as 100% scientific) but has some really good exercises. It was recommended on an Alexander Technique forum.


Hanna brought Feldenkrais to the US and promoted him. When Hanna began training practitioners one of my friends was in the first group trained. And last. Hanna died in a car accident a little before completing the first group's training. But he came back from that training and the things he could do were amazing!

So I call Somatics "Advanced Feldenkrais".

Look into Ankylosing Spondolytis. I have it, after ten years unexplained back pain.

Having back pain that won't go away isn't normal.

To your point one, it's not really quackery or not knowing anything. What you've pointed out is that there are A LOT of causes of back pain. Structural, genetic, acute injury, imbalances, etc... all can lead to back pain. What people often list are common causes in today's sedentary desk worker world.

To be fair, “muscle imbalance” is probably a pretty good guess for non-trauma related back pain. But the name belies exactly how complicated figuring out which muscles are imbalanced can be.

If you mean an imbalanced strength/development of muscles, then no it's not -- that's my point. Generally speaking, developing an accurate perception of how you hold your body and retraining how you hold it is the solution. An imbalance of muscle development has nothing to do with posture for the vast, vast, vast majority of people -- and it's arguably the biggest popular misconception.

I don’t think people mean difference in development, as in one is shriveled and weak, but often differences in flexibility and minor changes in power can affect thing. Consistent poor usage of your body can and does cause certain muscles to compensate for others, an imbalance if you will, because that’s just how the human body moves.

A lot of pain I’ve experienced over the years has been caused by an imbalance in flexibility between muscle pairs. Lately I’ve been having issue with the pectoral minor vs. one of the rotator muscles that’s been making overhead pressing a very pinchy experience. Releasing the pec minor with a lacrosse ball has done wonders for improving the comfort (and power) of my overhead press.

My only beef with this process is that figuring out which pair is imbalanced is really hard, and I could never do this on my own. It is not intuitive or logical that a pain I'm feeling in my shoulder can be fixed by focusing on my chest.

Ah yes then, sorry I misunderstood -- restoring flexibility is huge.

It's just I hear so often that the problem with someone's posture is a weak <insert whatever muscle here> contrasted with a normal <opposing muscle> and that the solution is just to go to the gym to strengthen that muscle so they'll be balanced, which will fix the posture... and that's virtually never the case.

If everything depends on the individual, what’s the point of respecting hard science?

What cancer treatment works also depends largely on the individual, but you shouldn't listen to quacks for your treatment either.

Lots of things have similar symptoms but different causes and a slew of things have similar causes but somewhat different symptoms.

For example, how many viruses all basically make flu-or-cold-like symptoms? Have you read about the array of symptoms that a person with MS might - or might not -experience?

Back pain is more like that first category, though. Lots and lots of things can cause it, so it really does depend on the individual. Hard science means we can do some investigations, know what is the more normal causes of such pains, and start treatment from there.

Applications are open for YC Winter 2022

Guidelines | FAQ | Lists | API | Security | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact