Everyone at some time early in life has been scolded for slouching and told to "sit up straight". Now researchers are saying that slouching may well be better for your spine. This new research was reported to the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) in a paper presented by lead researcher Dr. Waseem Bashir.
Dr. Bashir, of the Department of Radiology and Diagnostic Imaging at the University of Alberta Hospital, Canada, who led the study conducted at Woodend Hospital in Aberdeen, Scotland, stated, "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." He continued with recommendations from the research, "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."
In this research, positional MRI studies were performed on 22 volunteers in three different sitting positions. The MRIs were examined to measure spinal angles and spinal disk height and movement across the different positions. Excessive disk movement indicates the potential for problems. The results show that the slouched or relaxed position of 135 degrees was best and created the least amount of movement or stress. The worst position was the straight up position at 90 degrees.
In response to the study, Dr. Rishi Loatey of the British Chiropractic Association commented, "One in three people suffer from lower back pain and to sit for long periods of time certainly contributes to this, as our bodies are not designed to be so sedentary." The British Chiropractic Association (which provided the graphic above) stresses the importance of these findings and notes that 32% of the population spends more than 10 hours a day seated.
Dr. Bashir summed up his findings by saying, "We were not created to sit down for long hours, but somehow modern life requires the vast majority of the global population to work in a seated position. This made our search for the optimal sitting position all the more important."