The Back Story Podcast

The Back Center

The Back Story is your source for the latest in health, wellness and medical care for you and your entire family.Dr. Jaspal Ricky Singh M.D. and the world-renowned physicians at Weill Cornell Medicine, join forces with an expanded network of experts to bring in-depth conversations covering medical research, trending topics and wellness.

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Episode 33: Lions Don’t Jog… They Run

We continue our mini-series on the science behind having six-pack abs with our second installment, centered on exercise. We cover:

(1:10) jogging has only recently become mainstream, (4:25) high-intensity interval training, (6:33) high-intensity vs. low/moderate-intensity cardio, and (10:27) HIT and metabolic rate.

Episode 32: Abs are Made in the Kitchen

This is the first in our three-part series on the science behind having six-pack abs. Our first focus is on diet and we cover:

(0:45) you have a six-pack!, (2:14) “abs are made in the kitchen”, (2:49) the role of carbohydrates, (6:58) fallacy of the low-fat diet, and (8:07) the Atkins Diet.

Episode 31: Checking in on Your New Year’s Resolutions

About 75-80% of people abandon their New Year’s Resolutions six weeks into the year. With that in mind, we check in on your resolutions and share some tips to help you succeed. We cover:

(0:51) the origin of New Year’s Resolutions and why it’s so hard to make changes to our life, (2:40) setting yourself up for failure, (4:42) finding your ‘why’, (5:32) how to be successful in 2022, and (9:03) Dr. Singh’s New Year’s Resolution.

Episode 30: Managing Pain During Pregnancy

As we continue our miniseries on women’s health and men’s health, we talk pregnancy and pain management with our guest Dr. Jaclyn Bonder. Dr. Bonder serves as the Medical Director of Women’s Health Rehabilitation in the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine at New York Presbyterian – Weill Cornell Medical Center. Together we cover:

(5:16) common conditions during pregnancy, (6:41) the trimester where we see back pain, (11:55) sciatica and what it truly is, (14:00) treatment options for pain during pregnancy, (15:34) exercising during pregnancy, and (25:08) when to see a doctor for pain.

Learn more about Dr. Bonder here:

Episode 29: Women’s Health: Understanding Menopause

We welcome Dr. Susan Loeb-Zeitlin, Assistant Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, as we take a look at women’s health and menopause in particular. We cover:

(1:15) what menopause is, (2:12) symptoms of menopause, (4:38) body systems affected by menopause, (6:14) treatment options for menopause symptoms, (8:37) hormone replacement therapy, (13:19) popular misconceptions and misinformation, and (15:23) the Midlife Program.

Learn more about Dr. Loeb-Zeitlin here:

Find more information about the Midlife Program here:

Listen to Weill Cornell’s Women’s Health Wednesday podcasts here:

Episode 28: My Back Story

The tables are turned on Ricky as we get his own ‘back story’, patient stories, how the podcast came to be, and tips for staying active. We also cover:

(2:42) understanding what physiatry is, (4:34) Ricky finds his calling, (7:44) types of patients we typically see, (15:58) revisiting regenerative medicine, (21:55) five tips to stay active, (29:04) and what’s next for ‘The Back Story’.

Episode 27: You Are What You Eat

Gut health is our topic as we welcome Dr. Carolyn Newberry. Dr. Newberry is an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College and Attending Physician at New York Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center. She is a clinical gastroenterologist with advanced training in nutrition and obesity sciences. Together we cover:

(3:30) ICHANGE (Innovative Center for Health and Nutrition in Gastroenterology) and how it’s changing how we approach gastrointestinal diseases, (7:35) the difference between good bacteria and bad bacteria in our gut, (9:43) the difference between prebiotics and probiotics (14:15) magnesium and supplements, (15:24) what to know about fiber, (20:15) are humans lactose intolerant? (21:33) and what a normal bowel movement is.

Learn more about Dr. Newberry here:

Episode 26: A Different Look at Aging

Is aging just a natural process? We look at aging from a different perspective with Dr. Mark Lachs, Distinguished Professor of Medicine at the Weill Cornell Medical College and Co-Chief of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine. Dr. Lachs is also the Director of Geriatrics for The New York Presbyterian Health Care System and together we cover:

(2:27) what actually happens to your body as you age, (5:20) medical ageism, (10:52) sarcopenia and its role in aging, (14:01) weightlifting, (18:34) common supplements, and (22:32) the damaging effects of social isolation.

Learn more about Dr. Lachs here:

Episode 25: Medical Massage Therapy

How can massage therapy improve your health? This episode looks at how medical massage therapy can help achieve better outcomes. We are pleased to welcome Norma Dray, who is part of the Integrative Health and Wellbeing Center at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medicine. Norma is a licensed New York massage therapist, board-certified for therapeutic massage and body work. We cover:

(1:58) what is required to a licensed massage therapist, (3:05) forms of massage and what they accomplish, (5:00) what makes medical massage different, (8:18) contraindications for massage therapy, and (10:15) stress and mental health.

Learn more about the Integrative Health & Wellbeing Program here:

Episode 24: Getting a Better Night’s Sleep

What could be keeping you from a better night of sleep? Our guest is Dr. Ana Krieger, Chief of Sleep Neurology in the Department of Neurology and the Director of the Center for Sleep Medicine at Weill Cornell. Dr. Krieger is also Professor of Clinical Medicine in the Departments of Medicine, Neurology and Genetic Medicine and board-certified by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. She helps us address:

(1:28) why do we sleep?, (5:46) screen time and sleep distractions, (7:37) the role diet and exercise play with sleep, (9:58) white noise, (11:15) over the counter sleep aids (15:05) alcohol and sleep, (16:20) when prescription medicine is needed, (22:37) power naps, and (30:16) tips for improving sleep.

Learn more about Dr. Krieger here:

Episode 23: Keeping Your Kids Safe at School During the Pandemic

As children begin to return to school, many parents are concerned about keeping their kids safe with the surge in COVID-19 cases. This episode focuses on how we can keep our children safe as the school year begins and what we need to know about children under 12 and COVID-19. On this matter, we turn to the expertise of Dr. Sherry Huang, Pediatrician, Assistant Professor of Clinical Pediatrics and the Site Medical Director of the 156 William Street location at Weill Cornell Medicine. We cover:

(2:42) precautions that children should be taking, (4:15) defining what ‘close contact’ is with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, (5:29) COVID-19 symptoms for children, (8:16) what to do after being in contact with someone infected with COVID-19, (14:51) when we could see a vaccine for children, (19:55) vaccines and children with allergies, (21:14) fears surrounding returning to school during the pandemic, and (24:55) tips for parents to address these fears.

Learn more about Dr. Huang here:

Episode 22: Clear Optics: Eye Care and Protecting Your Vision

Eye wellness is our focus with our guest Dr. Ashley Brissette. Dr. Brissette is double board certified by both the American Board of Ophthalmology and the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons and specializes in cataract surgery, laser vision correction, dry eyes and eye exams at Weill Cornell Medicine.

We cover:

(3:35) protecting your eyes from the sun and what to look for when buying sunglasses, (6:44) understanding cataracts and macular degeneration, (10:22) what screen time does to your vision, (12:21) how effective are blue light blocking glasses, (13:48) the right amount of screen time for children, (16:06) computer vision syndrome, and (21:04) basic care for your eyes.

Learn more about Dr. Brissette here:

Episode 21: Vegan and Plant-based Diets

This episode looks at diet as lifestyle medicine. We focus on vegan and plant-based diets, including the benefits and misinformation surrounding both. Dr. Sumeet Bahl joins us as he has performed research at Emory University Mind-Body program, is a plant-based physician emphasizing lifestyle change through diet and exercise, and is a Vascular and Interventional Radiologist at the Brooklyn Hospital Center. Together we cover:

(6:06) Vegan vs. plant-based diets, (13:20) transitioning to a vegan diet, (14:49) getting protein when you’re not eating meat, (16:20) the myths of tofu and edamame, (17:36) improving bone density, (20:33) meat substitutes, (21:36) comparing results from plant-based and Mediterranean diets, and (25:13) meditation.

Learn more about Dr. Bahl here:

Episode 20: Supplements and Joint Pain

We cover the benefits of natural supplements with Dr. Vandana Sood, Assistant Professor of Rehabilitation Medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine. Dr. Sood specializes in both Sports Medicine and Spine Care and our discussion covers:

(2:06) the benefits of natural supplements and the love affair with curcumin and turmeric, (5:40) joint pain and glucosamine and chondroitin, (9:43) when steroid injections are necessary, (11:07) who should avoid supplements, (12:33) how weight impacts our joints, and (18:14) anti-inflammatory diets and the Mediterranean Diet.

Learn more about Dr. Sood here:

Episode 19: Women’s Heart Health

Cardiovascular disease is the No. 1 killer of women and the focus of this episode. We welcome Dr. Nivee Amin, Associate Director for Consultative Cardiology and Director of the Women’s Heart Program and Preventative Cardiology at Weill Cornell Medicine NewYork Presbyterian.

We cover:

(4:53) Heart disease as the number one killer of women and knowing your numbers, (7:58) groups of women who are most at risk for heart disease, (9:26) post menopause and heart disease, (13:05) sleep and heart disease, (17:38) how much we should be exercising, (19:59) the one food to watch.

Learn more about Dr. Amin here:

Episode 18: Equity vs. Equality: Diversity in Healthcare

Dr. Said Ibrahim is the Inaugural Senior Associate Dean for Diversity and Inclusion, Professor of Population Health Sciences at Weill Cornell Medicine, and an NIH funded clinical investigator, focusing on unequal health care access and quality among underserved communities. He joins us for a discussion on diversity in healthcare and how it impacts care outcomes and delivery of care.

We also cover:

(7:56) the big difference between health equity and health equality, (12:06) how implicit bias impacts healthcare and Dr. Singh discovers his own implicit bias, (19:32) achieving a diverse healthcare workforce, (27:03) changing how healthcare is delivered, and (30:15) study results and an interesting example of cultural differences.

Learn more about Dr. Ibrahim here:

Episode 17: Turning the Corner on COVID-19

As more Americans begin to feel more comfortable relaxing restrictions and mandates related to COVID-19, we take an in-depth and accurate look at where we stand in the fight against the virus. This episode we welcome Dr. Priya Nori to give us an expert perspective. Dr. Priya Nori is an Associate Professor of Medicine and Orthopedic Surgery at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. She serves as Medical Director of the Antimicrobial Stewardship Program and outpatient parenteral antibiotic therapy program at Montefiore Health System and is Program Director of the Infectious Diseases fellowship program.

We also cover:

(5:50) How mRNA vaccines work, (11:49) vaccine elitism and the argument for the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, (14:00) how often will we need to get a COVID-19 vaccine, (18:02) COVID-19 in India, (29:46) vaccinating the world, and (33:10) what needs to happen for life to return to normal.

Learn more about Dr. Nori here:

Afya Foundation website:

Episode 16: Overcoming Vaccine Hesitancy

We continue our look at the COVID-19 vaccination effort as we welcome Dr. Susana Morales, Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine and Vice Chair for Diversity for the Department of Medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine. With Dr. Morales, we explore why some people are reluctant to get vaccinated, as well as:

(2:27) Why it’s important to get vaccinated, (8:06) COVID-19 vaccines and DNA, (10:33) the groups most likely not to get vaccinated, (13:58) the rise of medical misinformation, (21:01) creating and earning trust with community, (24:38) the Weill Cornell Medicine Diversity Center of Excellence, and (28:09) Capstone projects.

Learn more about Dr. Morales here:

Episode 15: The Stigma of Addiction

We welcome Dr. Jonathan Avery, Associate Professor of Clinical Psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medicine and NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, as we explore the stigma associated with substance use and abuse.

We also cover: (2:32) The opioid crisis and what we’ve learned from it, (8:10) what motivational interviewing is and why it’s effective for those dealing with addiction, (12:38) the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on alcohol consumption, (17:40) what recovery from substance abuse looks like, and (20:46) the role genetics plays in substance abuse.

Learn more about Dr. Avery here:

Episode 14: Quarantine’s Pain in the Neck

We kick off Season 2 of The Back Story with a look at neck pain and how it has become more prevalent as we are working more from home. Our guest is Dr. Dan Riew, Director of Cervical Spine Surgery and Co-Director of Spine Surgery at New York Presbyterian Och Spine Hospital.

We cover: (6:56) what ‘tech neck’ is and how our devices could be hurting us, (12:41) when it comes to disk degeneration, what’s normal aging and what’s not?, (19:04) an overview of artificial disk replacement, as well as (22:34) ACDF (Anterior cervical discectomy and fusion) and how it compares to other procedures, and (27:21) preparations you can take before artificial disk replacement.

Learn more about Dr. Riew here:

Episode 13: Fad Diets and Emotional Eating

Janet Lau, Certified Registered Dietician and Nutritionist and Certified Holistic Health Coach joins us for a discussion on dieting and the impact the food that we choose to eat has on our body.

This episode explores: (4:30) how we think about diets and the science behind intermittent fasting, (9:01) food as fuel for your brain and quality vs. quantity of food, (12:31) the connection between diet and inflammation, and (15:39) the year of 100 Egg McMuffins and the threat of processed foods.

Learn more about the Weill Cornell Medicine’s Integrative Health and Wellbeing here: or by calling 646-697-9358.

Episode 12: Innovations in Spinal Cord Stimulation

We welcome Dr. Neel Mehta, Associate Professor of Anesthesiology and Director of Pain Management at Weill Cornell Medicine, as well as Co-Director of the Weill Cornell Center for Comprehensive Spine Care. Dr. Mehta specializes in interventional pain management with a focus on minimally invasive therapies and this episode focuses on how spinal cord stimulation is used as a method of pain management.

We cover: (3:03) how spinal cord stimulators work and how to determine if you’re a good candidate, (10:20) how this can help those with gastrointestinal motility and gastroparesis or the sensation that food is stuck in your esophagus, (12:18) how it could be helpful for those with diabetes, (14:45) the functional improvements spinal cord stimulation can provide, improving quality life, as well as the limitations of the treatment, and (18:00) why the treatment is an alternative to opioid use.

Learn more about Dr. Mehta here:

Episode 11: Concussion and Brain Injuries

We cover the frightening realities of concussions with Dr. Nitin Sethi, Associate Professor of Neurology at Weill Cornell Medicine. Dr. Sethi, who specializes in epilepsy, concussion and traumatic brain injury, is also the Chief Medical Officer of the New York State Athletic Commission, and a Certified Ringside Physician.

This episode focuses on: (1:17) how a neurologist becomes a ring-side physician for boxing and the UFC, (7:50) CTE and who is at risk, (16:03) how brain injuries are treated and what to do if you have a concussion, (23:05) what athletes and the sports world needs to know about concussions, and (29:12) what’s on the horizon for the science of concussions.

Learn more about Dr. Sethi here:

Episode 10: Cracking the COVID Code

We welcome Trip Gulick, Professor of Medicine and Chief of the Division of Infectious Disease at Weill Cornell Medicine, for a discussion on all things COVID-19. We cover:

(1:32) Why COVID-19 spreads so quickly and what sets this apart from other viruses, (5:20) what we know about COVID-19 that we didn’t know at the start of the pandemic, (7:43) health inequities and social factors that create groups at greater risk to COVID-19, (14:50) what’s next when it comes to COVID-19 and understanding vaccines, and (20:56) why flu shots and a COVID-19 vaccine are different.

Learn more about Dr. Gulick here:

Episode 9: Food is Medicine

How can we be more mindful about what we eat over the holidays and throughout the year? We chat with Jackie Topol, a Registered Dietician, Culinary Nutritionist, and Specialist in Integrative and Functional Nutrition about: (1:17) LEAP (Lifestyle Eating And Performance) Therapy and how it affects our immune system, (4:42) the benefits and composition of an anti-inflammatory diet, (6:19) emotional eating and its impact during the holidays, (9:34) strategies to avoid gaining weight over the holidays and the importance of breakfast, (11:56) tips for small alterations to some of your favorite holiday dishes to make them healthier and (17:09) foods to avoid over the holidays. 

Learn more about Jackie at

Episode 8: Pelvic Pain and Treating Sexual Dysfunction

We focus on the often overlooked issue of pelvic pain with Dr. Sonia Bahlani, a specialist in urological and gynecological pelvic pain disorders, founder of Pelvic Pain Doc in New York City and assistant professor of urology and gynecology at Hofstra Medical Center. 

Dr. Singh and Dr. Bahlani cover (2:45) what pelvic pain is, (4:52) what female sexual dysfunction is and how it’s both treated and identified, (8:19) treating pain in the lower vaginal area (vulvodynia), and (16:31) how diet can impact pelvic pain. 

Learn more about Dr. Bahlani at

Episode 7: Mental Well-Being: Becoming Self Aware and Mindful

We welcome Dr. Robert Allan, a clinical psychologist specializing in stress, anger management and pain medicine. Dr. Allan is a clinical assistant professor of psychology in medicine and a psychologist for the Weill Cornell Center for Comprehensive Spine Care and provides his expertise when it comes to:
(2:08) the impact of stress on our physical and mental health, (6:40) coping and dealing with pain and why your pain might feel worse at night, (15:40) cognitive behavioral therapy and how your thoughts can impact how you feel, (21:10) a breathing exercise to improve mindfulness, and (24:45) anger management and quieting impulses.

Learn more about Dr. Allan at

Episode 6: The Obesity Crisis and the Science of Weight Loss

Obesity is a major health crisis, resulting in conditions such as hypertension, diabetes and obstructive sleep apnea. Obesity impacts 2 out of every 3 Americans. We welcome Dr. Rekha Kumar, Specialist in Endocrinology and Obesity at Weill Cornell Medicine. Dr. Singh and Dr. Kumar cover (4:43) what you should know when it comes to dieting and which diets are more effective, (9:10) why the quality of calories matters and understanding your body’s “thermostat”, and when it comes to (18:17) diet vs. exercise vs. genetics: which is most important for weight loss?

Learn more about Dr. Kumar

Episode 5: Breaking the Stigma: Understanding Medical Marijuana 

As legislation decriminalizing marijuana becomes more popular, we explore how medical marijuana is being used to help treat patients.

Dr. Josh Weaver, Physician and Assistant Professor of Neurology at NewYork Presbyterian  Weill Cornell Medical Center, guides us through what we currently know about medical marijuana, as well as the role of CBD and THC.

You can call 646-962-9776 to schedule an appointment. 

Episode 4: The Air Up There: Tips on Nasal Health Harnessing 

Sinusitis can cause inflammation in your nose, sinuses and throat. The swelling can often interfere with your ability to exercise and has an impact on your fitness.  We sit down with our very own otolaryngologist (Ear Nose Throat surgeon), Dr. Aaron Pearlman, Associate Professor of Clinical Otorhinolaryngology at Weill Cornell Medicine.

Dr. Pearlman is also an attending rhinologist at New York Presbyterian Weill Cornell Medical Center and a consultant at the Hospital for Special Surgery.  He discusses signs and symptoms of acute and chronic sinusitis and strategies on how to maintain a healthy nasal passage. Optimizing your breathing can lead to improved exercise capacity which can improve your quality of life and wellness. 

You can contact The Weill Cornell Medicine Department of Otolaryngology or calling 646-962-3681.

You can follow Dr. Pearlman on Instagram and on Twitter

Episode 3: Harnessing Your Body’s Healing Potential:  Exploring Regenerative Medicine

How are regenerative medicine and stem cells being used to optimize healing?  Dr. Alfred Gellhorn, Associate Professor of Rehabilitation Medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine and Medical Director of Sports Medicine, explains the latest innovations with stem cell therapy and also the shortcomings.

Click to contact Weill Cornell Rehabilitation Medicine


calling 212-746-1500. 

Episode 2: Wellness is Everybody’s Business: A Talk on Integrative Health 

We explore the role of the integrative approach to medicine with Dr. Alka Gupta, Co-Founder and Co-Director of the Integrative Health and Wellbeing Center at NewYork-Presbyterian. Dr. Gupta delves into non-traditional and unique treatments such as acupuncture, massage and yoga, and explains the role these treatments play in improving a patient’s physical, mental and spiritual well being. 

You can contact the Integrative Health and Wellbeing Center at NewYork-Presbyterian by visiting Integrative Health


calling 1-646-NYP-WELL (1-646-697-9355). 

Episode 1: Trading Places: When A Spine Surgeon Becomes The Patient

In our premiere episode, we welcome Dr. Roger Härtl, a Professor of Neurological Surgery at Weill Cornell Medicine and Director of Spinal Surgery at New York Presbyterian Weill Cornell Medical Center as he gains a new perspective after undergoing spine surgery. Dr. Härtl details the events that led to him having back surgery and also explains how minimally invasive surgery benefits today’s patients.

You can contact the Weill Cornell Medicine Center for Comprehensive Spine Care by visiting or calling 877-509-3580.

Dr. Härtl’s Spine Time webinars can be viewed on Youtube

Episode 0: Trailer

A preview of ‘The Back Story’, your source for the latest in health, wellness and medical care for you and your entire family. Dr. Jaspal Ricky Singh M.D. and the world-renowned physicians at Weill Cornell Medicine, join forces with an expanded network of experts to bring in-depth conversations covering medical research, trending topics and wellness. Our podcast is a trusted source of information for medical care, combined with real patient experiences and the latest breakthroughs in medicine.



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