June 8, 2015

"Why Indigenous Cultures Don't Have Back Pain."

"'That S shape is actually not natural... It's a J-shaped spine that you want.'... [I]t's not that the J-shaped spine is the ideal one — or the healthiest. It's what goes into making the J-shaped spine that matters: 'You have to use muscle strength to get your spine to look like a J shape'...."

From an article at NPR.org that includes 5 tips for getting to J.

36 comments:

Laslo Spatula said...

Does carrying a mattress on one's back everywhere occur in indigenous cultures?

I am Laslo.

Expat(ish) said...

To be fair, I didn't read the article. (It's an NPR thing.)

But we know that all cultures have had back pain - it's clear from the archeological evidence. Was/is the incidence higher? I'd probably doubt that.

I will say that every time I go to the "developing world" I am shocked at the number of people who have visible deformities, either from correctable birth defects (I remember wearing "corrective shoes" when young) or from accidents. it's really startling.

-XC

TosaGuy said...

"Nobody has done a study on traditional cultures to see why some have lower rates of back pain, he says. Nobody has even documented the shape of their spines."

Your average overly credulous NPR listener will not remember this part when they use the anecdotes mentioned prior to reshape their entire lives and tell the rest of us that they are doing so because they listen to NPR.

Chris N said...

Hark the noble savage, living in strong-backed harmony with the Earth mother, stooped to her rhythms.

Eric the Fruit Bat said...

I listened to some audio lecture series on evolution and the human spine is more adapted to walking on all fours than on two legs, which gives us problems, IIRC.

YoungHegelian said...

A life of heavy manual labor affects the skeleton to such an extent that archaeologists can see the damages it wrought in the grave. If you do heavy lifting long enough, it'll mess up your back.

For example, in traditional Iran, it was just assumed that "old" people would be given opium to help them get through the day. Why do you think our colonial/early American ancestors drank alcohol all the damn time? It was the most readily available analgesic they had.

For most of history, if you lived into your mid-30's, you were in pain from something or another pretty much all the time. I wonder if the author is not pulling another Margaret Mead fable of "Among the X tribe, 'Y very culturally common thing' is unknown".

TosaGuy said...

Obligatory Family Guy Clip.

Laslo Spatula said...

Indigenous Cultures don't use the Missionary Position. Therefore, the Missionary Position causes back problems.

Probably does.

An argument for the Reverse Cowgirl.


I am Laslo.

Babaluigi said...


What about the little ditty, (was it from Romper Room?) to sing as one walked across the room balancing a little basket on the head...
"See me stand so big and tall,
I won't let my basket fall,
Eyes ahead,
Don't look down,
Keep that basket off the ground!"

Chin up, chest out, shoulders pulled back and down, pelvis tucked slightly under... Good posture! It just feels better!

...My dance professor would tell us to stand as if there was a string running up our spines and through our skulls, and a puppeteer was using it to pull us up off the ground...

Skyler said...

Just more nonsense from NPR. Modern medicine and western civilization are always bad. Yawn.

We should accept the artistic interpretation of Kouros statues from 2500 years ago made by an accupuncturist? We should do anything in response to a accupuncturist except laugh? They're worse than chiroquactors.

And they show a spine that is "J" shaped that looks suspiciously like an "S" to me.

Why do people not treat NPR with more circumspection when they come out with idiocy like this?

Henry said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Henry said...

Reads like a paid advertising insert. Not a longitudinal study, not anthropological research, not a medical study of anatomy. No, it's a puff piece on the profit-making business of an acupuncturist.

Believe it or not, there are a few cultures in the world where back pain hardly exists.

I appreciate the shout-out to Ripley's, even if reporter Michaeleen Doucleff seems oblivious to its implication.

Chris N said...

I see a lucrative Sedona chiropractic Zen retreat sponsorship in NPR's future

victoria said...

Skyler,

Why don't you treat NPR with a little more respect?


Interesting. I listened to the discussion on the radio this morning. Go KPCC!!!!

It is worth looking in to. Sounds valid.


Vicki from Pasadena

TosaGuy said...

Right on cue, several of my friends on facebook who are diehard with their NPR listening have linked to this article and extrapolated their preferred health meaning.

Chris N said...

So what if the J Spine lifestyle requires a lot of Gluten and/or GMO's.

What do I do? How should I live?

Chris N said...

Once you walk into that yoga studio, the troubles of the Western world's clinical, imperial, modern State just melt away.

After many months of threatening gestures and misunderstandings, I finally met the Igoru tribe in a jungle clearing with the J-spine downward dog pose.

retired said...

"Why don't you treat NPR with a little more respect?"

I stopped listening to Red Radio when I grew up.

William said...

Chronic malnutrition helps to keep the weight under control, and, even more than a sedentary lifestyle, obesity aggravates back problems. Back pain was almost unheard of in Hitler's work camps and Stalin's gulags. A diet free of red meat and lots of exercise gave these citizens some of the healthiest backs imaginable. So it is possible to incorporate healthy backs into a western lifestyle.

Fernandinande said...

So Europeans in Europe don't have back pain but Europeans in the US do?

They're misusing the word "indigenous" as a euphemism for "primitive". Silly NPR.

Skyler said...

Victoria, I listen to NPR almost every day. They are incredibly snobby know nothings.

If you listened to that report and didn't wonder what a "J" shaped spine was, and why no medical doctors were prominent in the report, then you missed out on the real learning point.

gerry said...

A diet free of red meat and lots of exercise gave these citizens some of the healthiest backs imaginable.

And you could really see their spines!

Jeff Boulier said...

"Why do you think our colonial/early American ancestors drank alcohol all the damn time? It was the most readily available analgesic they had."

Water quality probably had a lot more to do with that.

Ron said...

They say the heartbreak of psoriasis is what killed off the Easter Islanders.....

Ryan said...

My back pain completely disappeared after I started doing heavy compound barbell lifts as described in Mark Rippetoe's Starting Strength book: deadlifts, squats, presses, bench presses, and rows. I'm convinced that back pain is merely the result of weakness in the body, and this article seems to confirm that.

Ryan said...

I should add that the SS book very effectively teaches the correct lumbar extension for deadlifting and squatting. You quickly learn to incorporate this correct back position into everyday activities like sitting, lifting object, and standing.

Wilbur said...

Through law school, I worked summers doing full-time heavy lifting work: metal garbage cans, wet grass lawn bags, 110 lb. jackhammers, etc.

I believe this played a role in my having very little back trouble in the following 35 years, along with continuing to do my own yard work.

I could be wrong.

averagejoe said...

victoria said...
Why don't you treat NPR with a little more respect?

Vicki from Pasadena

6/8/15, 10:42 AM

Because they produce tripe, as evidenced by the segment presented. Think about it- NPR presented as fact, without any study, science or history to inform or support them, a racist stereotype. And because of the soft and deceptive way in which this ignorant bigotry was presented, progressive democrats are agreeing and repeating it. Shame on them, but NPR is the source of the spew.

Tim Gilliland said...

NP-Ah listener; Upper West Siders bitterly clinging to their scotch and erotica, resting safe in the loving arms of their dogma. (She is quite the B*tch.)
The last time I tuned in was at the beginning of Gulf War 1, and they had some blubbering High school teacher weeping openly on air about the young soldiers from the town who were leaving, tying a yellow ribbon for each on on the school bulletin board, and how as each one was killed they would change the yellow ribbon to red.
I don't recall exact figgers, but I believe we lost more soldiers in that conflict to auto accidents than we did to enemy action.

Sammy Finkelman said...

The only thing that could explain a difference in posture between now and other times and here and other places, is the type of clothing - or shoes - people wear (or even wearing shoes all the time, possibly)

She also says people should NOT STAND UP STRAIGHT!! but slouch their shoulders.

It's got to be bad shoes.

Sammy Finkelman said...

It can't be work or not work, because not everybody carries things. It;s got to be the clothes and/or the shoes.

That's the only thing that never would be in ancient Greece or present day Afghanistan or whereever.

Sammy Finkelman said...

The only explanation I could think of for a J-shaped spine would be that more weight is put on one leg than on the other, or you're leaning slightly to the side, something perhaps avoided by people who always wear new or repaired shoes and make or keep the heels on their shoes even.

A S-shape would sound like you're being twisted somehow.

Sammy Finkelman said...

Expat(ish) said on 6/8/15, @9:04 AM:

I will say that every time I go to the "developing world" I am shocked at the number of people who have visible deformities, either from correctable birth defects (I remember wearing "corrective shoes" when young) or from accidents. it's really startling.

They have deformities, maybe, but do they have pain?


Anonymous said...

People who believe this nonsense also vote for Democrats.

Anonymous said...

Blogger Ryan said...
My back pain completely disappeared after I started doing heavy compound barbell lifts as described in Mark Rippetoe's Starting Strength book: deadlifts, squats, presses, bench presses, and rows. I'm convinced that back pain is merely the result of weakness in the body, and this article seems to confirm that


This.

When I exercise, back pain goes away. Rippetoe's squats and lifts? I thought it was going to cause me back pain. On the contrary, completely did away with it.

Lily Khan said...

good