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Sitting In A Tilted Backward Position Could Be Better For Your Back!

Raghda is a pharmacist with MSc in pharmaceutical biology, a current fitness coach, and a science-geek at heart. She loves educating others.

Reclining the chair back to open the hip angle up to 135 degrees could be better for your back

Reclining the chair back to open the hip angle up to 135 degrees could be better for your back

1 in 10 People Globally Has Lower Back Pain With Slightly More In Men Than Women

Whether it took us a pandemic to realize it or not, many of us usually sit for long hours barely leaving our desk. Result is that by the end of the day we usually suffer low back pain.

According to the NHS,1 in 10 people has lower back pain with slightly more in men than women. One of the main factors to this irritating low back pain is "the way we posture ourselves while sitting" and not just about "the number of hours we actually do sit."

Let's go back in history a little bit. In 1953, an American orthopedic surgeon named Keegan studied the spine in a series of x-rays and concluded that “Most of the stresses on the spine are evenly distributed when legs are far from upper-body (torso) by a 135 degree angle."

In other words, sliding your upper body away from your hips as if you are sitting on a chaise longue or on the dentist chair is less likely to cause you back pain as it relives spine tension.

50 Years Later Keegan's Findings Were Confirmed

Fifty years later, in 2006 Keegan's 1953 findings were revisited by Dr. Waseem Amir Bashir, M.B.Ch.B., F.R.C.R., author and clinical fellow in the Department of Radiology and Diagnostic Imaging at the University of Alberta Hospital, Canada and a team of researchers.

Bashir's study aimed to examine the optimal sitting posture by looking at the changes in the lower back and spinal disc shape, this time using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

The study was able to identify three different sitting postures (also shown in the below pictures):

  • The open angle (135 degrees) trunk-thigh posture, this posture caused the least strain on the spine
  • The forward bending posture, like slouching over, this was the worst as it increases stress on spine
  • The straight angle (90 degrees) posture, with a straight back and legs parallel to the floor, following the forward bending in stress
The open angle (135 degree) trunk-thigh posture

The open angle (135 degree) trunk-thigh posture

The forward bending posture, like slouching over

The forward bending posture, like slouching over

The straight angle (90 degree) posture

The straight angle (90 degree) posture

Is There An Ideal Sitting Posture?

Sitting in a 135 degree can sometimes comprise your neck and arm comfort, especially if you are working on a laptop. An alternative opinion from the CCOHS is that the optimal sitting posture would be having your hips, knees and ankles open slightly more than a 90 degree.

So as you can see here there is no one-angle fits all. However, you could start experimenting which is the ideal posture for your back. This is where you should feel the most relaxed and the least stressed. It also goes without saying that of course you should not as well sit for long hours without moving every now and then.

What Is A Kneeling Chair?

Another very interesting tip that might help your back pain is getting an ergonomic kneeling chair. This chair is designed to automatically force your spine to be positioned in its natural curve. This chair helps to support your knees by making it in a 45 degree angle away from the floor, relaxing your back from constantly trying to maintain this up-straight posture.

Office Chairs vs. Kneeling Chairs: Which Is Better For Back Pain And Posture?

A quick take-home message from these studies would be simply that the more open angle you have between your torso and your thighs, the less strain you are more likely to add on your spine!

This content is for informational purposes only and does not substitute for formal and individualized diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed medical professional. Do not stop or alter your current course of treatment. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2020 Raghda Soliman

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