I have learned this technique from my Chinese doctors, not American doctors. But from my personal experience, I have to say, it works like magic. This is the single most effective method to relieve your back pain.
The doctors and patients in China told me the following reason behind lying flat:
Lying flat is the position that the spinal disc being compressed least. Thus, it is also the best position for the herniated disc to heal itself, because the disc is not pushed out by the body weight. Over time, the tear in the outer ring of the disc is sealed back with a scar. In the very beginning, the scar is very fragile and easy to be torn again by pressure. But if we continue lie down and do no put extra weight on it, the scar becomes stronger and can hold more weight. Blood circulation is the main mechanism in the body to bring in nutrients and take out wastes. However, because the area around the discs does not have any blood vessels and such process can only be performed by the body fluid, this healing process of the disc is very slow.
Doctors in China recommend to lie flat extensively for at least one month to see any effect. Lie flat extensively means lying in bed 24 hours a day except eating and boweling. Some doctors go even one step further and claim that there is no pain caused by disc herniation cannot be cured by simply lying flat, as long as the period is long enough. In my worst days, (Check My Back Pain Story for details.), my parents brought me to see a patient who had the back pain twenty years ago. At that time, he almost decided to do surgery. But on the night before he was pushed to the surgery room, he changed his mind. Then he lied in bed continuously for three months and his pain went away. In the last twenty years, the only care he did on the spine was to keep it warm (Check A Warmer Spine Leads To Less Pain for details). Recently, his pain came back because he didn't do exercises to strengthen the back muscle. So he lied flat for another three months and the pain was gone again.
I once ask a US doctor whether I can lie in bed for extended period of time, and get negative answer. His reasoning is very simple: lie in bed for a long time weakens the muscle, making it at the risk of muscle degeneration. Thus, he recommends to do some activity as long as it doesn't cause any pain.
However, I don't fully agree with him. I am in constant pain. How to do activities to strengthen the muscle without pain? Rather, I'd believe in the doctors in China. It's better to lie flat and keep that for a long time to let the body heal itself, even at the risk of muscle degeneration. Resume the activities after the pain goes away. Furthermore, some exercises can be done when lying in bed, so the risk of muscle degeneration can be minimized.
Well, lying flat is a free therapy to relieve the lower back pain caused by bulging discs or herniated discs. I have seen and heard it worked on many people. My personal experience also confirms its effectiveness. However, patients may not see the benefit of it unless it is followed strictly for extended period of time. Thus, it requires the persistence and belief from the patients.
You can do a lot of things while lying in bed. I used to set up a hanger to hang my laptop up so I can work on the computer while lying down. I don't have a picture, but I find this one on the right.