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Sitting Up

February 6, 2007

Sitting up straight may not be such great advice after all.


A strike against sitting up straight. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

If you always sit up straight, you might be in for a lifetime of back problems. This according to Waseem Bashir, a musculoskeletal radiologist at the University of Alberta in Canada. He and his colleagues used a new, full-body MRI scanner to study various sitting positions.

WASEEM BASHIR (University of Alberta):
Sitting up bolt straight, 90 degrees, with your back straight and your legs parallel to the floor, increases the amount of pressure in your lower back discs, and strain on your muscles and ligaments, and also causes squashing of the discs when you’re in that position.

They found that it’s much better to recline slightly, with your knees well below your hips, creating a wide angle between your thighs and torso. That’s hard to do in most office chairs, but Bashir says putting a wedge-shaped cushion under your back and raising the seat can help.

I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.