When Doctors Don’t Know the Best Medical Advice

Some of their outdated tips may compromise your care or sabotage your health goals. Here, medical advice you can safely ignore.

By Sharon Liao from Reader's Digest Magazine | June 2013

Old Medical Advice: Sit up straight. Keeping your spine perfectly straight while sitting can prevent aches and fend off future back problems.

New Medical Advice: Kicking back may be the best strategy after all. When Canadian researchers from the University of Alberta performed MRI scans on volunteers, they found that reclining at a 135-degree angle put less strain on spinal disks than sitting at a 90-degree angle. “Over time, excess pressure can cause your disks to bulge and lead to an injury such as a herniated disk,” says Evan Johnson, DPT, director of physical therapy at the Spine Center at New York- Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center.

While you’re sitting at a desk, hold your head in line with your shoulders and your hips, allowing for a slight forward curve in your back, and lean slightly back. Adjust your chair so your back is supported. “When we do checks with the hospital staff, I’m always surprised by the number of doctors who don’t sit properly,” Johnson says.

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