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Planet Chiropractic NewsPosted: Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Back Pain: researchers say don't sit up straight
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by Michael Dorausch, DC
planetc1.com staff writer

Using some new magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) techniques, Scottish and Canadian researchers have found that sitting in an upright position places unnecessary strains on one's back. According to researchers, sitting in an upright posture for long periods of time (hours) can lead to chronic back pain.

Lumbar Spine X-Ray APAccording to the research, conducted at the Woodend Hospital in Aberdeen, Scotland, the best position in which to sit at your desk is leaning back slightly, in about a 135 degree position.

Research involved the use of a positional MRI machine, which was used to scan the lower vertebral regions of 22 volunteers as they moved around in different sitting postures. Most MRI studies done in the past involved patients lying down flat on their back, rather than standing or sitting up.

According to the study, researchers found that the 135 degree body to thigh position was better than the 90 degree position, which many people consider normal upright sitting posture. Researchers pointed out that humans were not created to sit down for long periods of time, but that modern life requires the vast majority of the world population to do so. Finding the best possible postures when doing one's work would be beneficial to many.

In the research, individuals involved were asked to adopt three different sitting positions; slouched, upright, and relaxed. In a slouched position, one sits with the body hunched forward (like you would typically see a kid do while playing a video game). In an upright position, one sits at a 90 degree back to thigh posture. In the relaxed position, the individual reclined backwards at 135 degrees, with the feet remaining on the floor.

Researchers watched for spinal disc movement, which occurs when weight-bearing strain is placed upon the spine, causing internal disk material (nucleus pulposus) to misalign. According to the research, disc movement was most pronounced in the 90 position and was the least pronounced in the 135 position.

While not intended to cure back pain, the researchers feel that adopting a relaxed posture may lessen the likelihood of one experiencing back pain in the workplace.

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