Sit up crooked

By HSC Staff Writer • Published: April 24th, 2007
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Forget what mom said… put your seat back and relax a little. Researchers from the Woodend Hospital in Aberdeen, Scotland, have come up with the best way to avoid back injury if you’re holding down a desk job… and it’s not sitting up straight.

Your spine is a stacked series of donut-shaped bones that are spaced apart by cushy discs of cartilage. Quote unquote “good sitting posture” is supposed to keep that structure healthy by keeping it well-aligned.

However, according to work presented at last year’s annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America, the ninety-degree pose instead forces all of your upper body weight directly down along the length of your spinal cord. This compression causes the bones to squish the discs, thus greatly increasing the chances that one of these discs will slip and end up causing back problems.

The Scottish researchers used an M-R-I to investigate several sitting positions. For example, hunching forward apparently takes some weight off your back, but still causes it to curve in an awkward way that could lead to disc misalignments as well as bad standing posture.

The researchers’ best suggestion? With your feet flat on the ground, tilt your chair back one-hundred-thirty-five degrees. This position allows you to keep your spine straight without making it take the brunt of your upper body weight.

Just be careful, though. While being a healthier alternative, leaning back is also more relaxing… and just might lead to another problem… dozing on the job!