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Sitting very straight could be bad for your back

Published on October 21, 2016 at 14:41 / Updated on April 15, 2021 at 12:44

A study suggests that sitting up straight is likely not the best position for office workers.

A group of researchers states that the best sitting position is slightly leaning backward, so your body forms an angle of approximately 135 degrees between the thighs and the trunk. To reach this conclusion, scientists relied on a new type of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) using a positional MRI apparatus. As this machine allows patients to move freely during the test, scientists were able to determine the exact areas of the back that were experiencing unnecessary tensions.

For the purpose of this study, patients assumed three sitting positions: hunched forward, sitting upright, and sitting in a “relaxed” position, that is to say a position where the back was inclined backward, but the feet remained on the floor. The researchers then measured the angle of the spine, the height of the spinal disks and the back movements for each position. According to their observations, the relaxed position inflicts less stress on the back.

Therefore, the ideal angle between the thighs and the trunk is probably around 120 degrees, because we have a tendency to slide in our chairs, and a more open angle makes it very difficult to remain seated properly. Opening up the angle between the thighs and the trunk when we are sitting improves the shape of our spine, as it can adopt the more natural S-shape of a standing posture. According to the researchers, sitting in a sound anatomic position is absolutely essential, as the strain that is put on the spine and its ligaments can, over time, lead to chronic pain and even deformities.

It is thought that close to one third of all people likely suffer from lower back pain and the fact that we remain seated for such long periods of time undoubtedly contributes to our discomfort. We need to remember that the human body is not designed to be sedentary.

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