A research for the optimal sitting position

The Research Methodology

The research was carried out at Woodend Hospital in Aberdeen, using a new form of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) which allows patients the freedom to move - so they can sit or stand - during the test. Traditional scanners mean patients have to lie flat, which may mask causes of pain that stem from different movements or postures.Twenty two volunteers with healthy backs were scanned .

In this study, the patients assumed three different sitting positions:

  • a slouching position, in which the body is hunched forward as if they were leaning over a desk or a video game console;
  • an upright 90-degree sitting position;
  • and a "relaxed" position where they leaned back at 135 degrees while their feet remained on the floor.

The researchers then took measurements of spinal angles and spinal disk height and movement across the different positions. Spinal disk movement occurs when weight-bearing strain is placed on the spine, causing the disk to move out of place.

The conclusions

  • Disk movement was found to be most pronounced with a 90-degree upright sitting posture.
  • It was least pronounced with the 135-degree posture, suggesting less strain is placed on the spinal disks and associated muscles and tendons in this more relaxed sitting position.

By identifying bad sitting postures and allowing people to take preventative measures to protect the spine, Dr. Bashir and colleagues hope to reduce back strain. "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," Dr. Bashir said. "This made our search for the optimal sitting position all the more important."

Reference: http://www2.rsna.org/timssnet/media/pressreleases/PDF/pressreleasePDF.cfm?ID=294