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Aching back? Don't sit up straight, study says
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Post Aching back? Don't sit up straight, study says - November 30, 2006, 01:09 PM

AP
A new study is making it easier to ignore your mother's sage advice on sitting up straight.

In fact, the stick-straight posture is bad for your back, researchers say.

The best posture is actually a 135-degree angle, which would mean one would sit at their desk leaning backwards slightly, according to new research presented Monday at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America.

This position takes the pressure off the spinal disks in the lower back, researchers say.

"A 135-degree body-thigh sitting posture was demonstrated to be the best biomechanical sitting position, as opposed to a 90-degree posture, which most people consider normal," said Waseem Amir Bashir, author and clinical fellow in the Department of Radiology and Diagnostic Imaging at the University of Alberta Hospital.

"Sitting in a sound anatomic position is essential, since the strain put on the spine and its associated ligaments over time can lead to pain, deformity and chronic illness," he said in a written statement.


Researchers used a positional MRI scanner to collect images from 22 healthy volunteers with no history of back pain or surgery.

A positional MRI allows patients to move around during imaging whereas a traditional tunnel MRI requires patients to lie flat, which may mask causes of pain that stem from postures or movements.

This permits scientists to see how different body positions affect the back and spine, and the affect of an upright posture.

The 22 patients studied at Woodend Hospital in Aberdeen, Scotland assumed three different sitting positions.

One included a slouching posture in which the body is hunched forward; while the second was an upright 90-degree sitting position; and the third was the relaxed position where the patient reclined backward 135 degrees while the feet remained on the floor.

The researchers used the MRI images to determine which sitting position put the least stress on the back.


They were able to tell which position strained the back least, by taking measurements of spinal angles, spinal disk height, and movement across the different positions.

Spinal disk movement occurs when weight-bearing strain is placed on the spine, causing the internal disk material to misalign.

"You can see the disc has gone backwards," said Bashir as he showed an MRI image of a patient's back. "If you stand up after long periods (of sitting), and you've got weak back muscles, you can potentially pop the disc out."

Disk movement was most pronounced with a 90-degree upright sitting posture but it was least pronounced with the 135-degree position, indicating that less strain is placed on the spinal disks and associated muscles and tendons in this position.

The researchers also found that the "slouch" position found a reduction in spinal disk height, signifying a high rate of wear and tear on the lowest two spinal levels.

Across all measurements, the researchers concluded that the 135-degree position was the best posture to assume.

In conclusion, Bashir and his colleagues recommended that patients invest in ergonomically designed home or office furniture that would allow them to be seated in the "optimal position."


Back pain is a leading contributor to job-related absenteeism and the most common cause of work-related disability in the United States, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

By identifying bad seating postures and allowing people to take preventative measures to protect the spine, Bashir and colleagues hope to reduce back strain and subsequent missed work days.


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November 30, 2006, 01:24 PM

I have cruiser customers who claim sport bikes cause back pain, but i know of several i switched to sport tourers to ease the pressure from harleys...


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November 30, 2006, 03:35 PM

I could've told them that. People at work would give my crap for being nearly laid out under my desk, now they can STFU.


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