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Best Sitting Posture Is Not Straight Up

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the try-typing-in-that-position dept.

Science 291

An anonymous reader writes, "Researchers at Woodend Hospital in Aberdeen, Scotland used a new form of magnetic resonance imaging to collect images from 22 healthy volunteers, who assumed three different sitting positions: slouching posture in which the body is hunched forward, an upright 90-degree sitting position, and a relaxed position where the subject reclined backward 135 degrees. They concluded that the reclined position is the best, and the forward slouch the worst." From the article: "'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.'"

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291 comments

Feline Poop! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17021582)

Fuck you, all you motherfucking LambdaMOOers! Slouch or recline or whatever, you're still asshats! Fuck you!

Is it just me... (5, Funny)

Akvum (580456) | more than 7 years ago | (#17021608)

Or did you start to slouch the moment you read this?

Re:Is it just me... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17021828)

I was already slouching.

Re:Is it just me... (2, Insightful)

Phisbut (761268) | more than 7 years ago | (#17022388)

Or did you start to slouch the moment you read this?
Unfortunately, the problem with the 135 degrees position is that you need a very good chair with a head-rest, otherwise, sitting at 135 degrees while keeping you head straight (in order to be looking horizontally at your monitor, rather than at the ceiling) hurts the neck.

Re:Is it just me... (2, Interesting)

udderly (890305) | more than 7 years ago | (#17022750)

Right. I'm moved my mouse and keyboard to try out the whole 135 degree thing. I have to admit that it does seem very comfortable for my back and hamstrings, my chair doesn't have a headrest and my neck is starting to fatigue. I wonder about moving the monitor closer to me, higher up and tilting the top of it downward some. Of couse I would need some sort of fancy mount to do that.

Re:Is it just me... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17022398)

I actually wondered why these researchers don't try and find better things to research. Oh, I don't know, cures for cancer or aids maybe?

Re:Is it just me... (3, Interesting)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 7 years ago | (#17022724)

Throwing too many researchers at a problem is like throwing too many programmers at an operating system. Plus not every researcher has a cellular biological background (or whatever...)

This is actually one of the better pseudo-scientific studies at least, can finally get some closure on all those times I was told 'SIT UP STRAIGHT!'

Re:Is it just me... (3, Funny)

sparkane (145547) | more than 7 years ago | (#17022638)

Actually it really made me sit up and take notice.

sig: "I'll slouch when I'm dead!"

Re:Is it just me... (3, Funny)

danpsmith (922127) | more than 7 years ago | (#17023108)

Or did you start to slouch the moment you read this?

Oh come on, I was already leaning back, don't you remember? Fat Joe told us to do this a couple years ago.

Vast majority? (5, Insightful)

benhocking (724439) | more than 7 years ago | (#17021628)

Does the vast majority of the global population really work in a sitting position, or is it just the vast majority that are participating in the "global economy"? I.e., if you factor in the billions who are living in poverty, is that statement still true? I'm skeptical.

Re:Vast majority? (1)

LoudMusic (199347) | more than 7 years ago | (#17021892)

Does the vast majority of the global population really work in a sitting position, or is it just the vast majority that are participating in the "global economy"? I.e., if you factor in the billions who are living in poverty, is that statement still true? I'm skeptical.

Well don't even consider the unemployed. How about the hundreds of millions of factory workers in countries as prosperous as the United States (and company). Or the farmers and ranchers. I don't have specifics but I'd bet there are 10x as many jobs not sitting at a desk as there are that this study effects.

However! All humans sit. And most humans sit on a chair or bench where this study does provide useful information. The vast majority of us drive cars and sit in front of a TV for a few hours per week. And we all sit to eat.

So when you're sitting sit in a comfortable relaxing posture and make the most of the time on your butt.

Re:Vast majority? (4, Interesting)

Citizen of Earth (569446) | more than 7 years ago | (#17022378)

Well don't even consider the unemployed.

They would spend their days either sitting on a couch or a bar stool. They would slouch backward on a couch, which is good, or slouch forward on a bar stool, which is bad.

I don't have specifics but I'd bet there are 10x as many jobs not sitting at a desk as there are that this study effects.

75% of the first-world economy is in the service sector. This tends to mean desk jobs. Farmers would probably spend a good deal of time sitting while driving equipment or filing for government hand-outs. Many factory workers would be seated, too, on stools to assemble small items. I would guess that less than 10% of jobs require a significant amount of standing/moving.

Re:Vast majority? (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 7 years ago | (#17022832)

75% of the first-world economy is in the service sector. This tends to mean desk jobs.

Riiight. Go to any restaurant or store and tell me how many of the waiters or salespeople you see sitting. Is this kind of work an insignificant part of the service sector?

Re:Vast majority? (1)

Andrew Kismet (955764) | more than 7 years ago | (#17022902)

Go to any restaurant

I find it ironic you say that. I wonder what the customers are doing? Floating?

Re:Vast majority? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17023092)

Well, they may or may not be working. The point was that waiters and such are jobs in the service industry which do not involve being seated for long periods of time.

Re:Vast majority? (1)

whimmel (189969) | more than 7 years ago | (#17022926)

75% of the first-world economy is in the service sector. This tends to mean desk jobs.


service sector desk jobs? You mean like housekeeping, food service, custodial... To me "desk jobs" means professionals.

Re:Vast majority? (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 7 years ago | (#17023208)

Many factory workers would be seated, too, on stools to assemble small items. I would guess that less than 10% of jobs require a significant amount of standing/moving.

You've never held a factory job have you....

You stand, they reprimand you for sitting in a factory.

Re:Vast majority? (1)

zCyl (14362) | more than 7 years ago | (#17022302)

Does the vast majority of the global population really work in a sitting position, or is it just the vast majority that are participating in the "global economy"?

The vast majority of people who can read news articles at work do. I.e., the audience.

yep (2, Informative)

corychristison (951993) | more than 7 years ago | (#17021630)

*kicks back*

I have to say that this chair was the best investment I ever made... only about $100 (Canadian) at Walmart, but still. :-)

Re:yep (2, Funny)

SomeoneGotMyNick (200685) | more than 7 years ago | (#17022802)

*kicks back*

I have to say that this chair was the best investment I ever made... only about $100 (Canadian) at Walmart, but still. :-)


Now, replace your chair with mine. The one I was issued at work.

I have to say that this chair was the best investment they ever made... only about $250 (US) at WWHHAAAAAAA!!!

....while the recline limit pin gives way. It's a spring loaded pin you pull out to set. The slightest forward motion SILENTLY returns the pin to the unlocked position. The next time I lean back, everybody in the office knows it.

Re:yep (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#17022904)

My chair at work is almost as bad. Worse, probably, in some ways; the pin sort of works its way out as I move around, so it's random when it will fall. And the chair skews to the right when I lean back.

Personally I've always had a low-rider seating/typing style. It's not quite typing-correct (the hand part I mean) but since my hands are so huge it causes me literal pain to place my fingers on the home row, so I can't touch-type by the book anyway. In spite of that I get about 75WPM at 99% accuracy on a good keyboard like a clicky IBM one (or 95% on this laptop.)

Well this is good news (1)

kmhebert (586931) | more than 7 years ago | (#17021632)

Now I need to get my boss to buy me a recliner. My office chair sucks, I do find myself reclining it it while I can but it almost seems to force me to lean over.

Re:Well this is good news (1)

maclizard (1029814) | more than 7 years ago | (#17023172)

well, i don't know where my office chair came from but it relines right to 135 degrees... its awsome.

not surprising (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17021640)

This doesn't come as much of a surprise to me. In order to get an idea of some fairly natural postures for humans, one need only visit the primate house at the local zoo. Of course, if you don't believe in evolution, then maybe you should observe positions at your local church (pews are good for you!). Just don't complain to me about back pain later in life.

Best for the back... (5, Interesting)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 7 years ago | (#17021660)

But not necessarily for the task.

In other words, can you please do a study confirming (to my employer, of course) that this 135 degree reclined position does not adversely affect my the bloodflow to the brain, attention span, ability to perform complex mental tasks, etc?

From my anecdotal experience with video games, I can definitely say that my performance is much better when I am leaning forward than when I am reclining -- though this may also have something to do with distance from the monitor, etc.

Re:Best for the back... (4, Funny)

gt_mattex (1016103) | more than 7 years ago | (#17021848)

From my anecdotal experience with video games, I can definitely say that my performance is much better when I am leaning forward than when I am reclining -- though this may also have something to do with distance from the monitor, etc.

I believe this would have something to do with leaning forward being a more 'aggressive' stance.

Re:Best for the back... (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 7 years ago | (#17021930)

Makes a lot of sense. Better adrenergic response when leaning forward, as the adrenergic response is not needed near so much when 'safely' reclined... from a two-bit evolutionary analysis.

Great sig, btw.

Re:Best for the back... (1)

cbreaker (561297) | more than 7 years ago | (#17021888)

The problem is also that if your environment at work is not set up to accommodate your leaning back position (ie monitors way up high, etc) then your neck ends up bending forward and holding up the weight of your head so you can see your screens and anything else on the desk.

It will end up giving you neck pain. Sitting fairly straight seems to be the best for taking burden off your neck. When you're standing, your neck doesn't often get tired.

Re:Best for the back... (1)

foobsr (693224) | more than 7 years ago | (#17023132)

When you're standing, your neck doesn't often get tired.

But proper standing (posture) is a topic in itself (and I suppose that most that have to cope with improper ergonomic conditions have difficulties to do so). I almost believe that even the goal of an at least "good" posture is unattainable given the conditions of "civilization".

CC.

Re:Best for the back... (1)

Mark of THE CITY (97325) | more than 7 years ago | (#17021976)

Music students are taught to sit upright, not touching the chair back, which requires scooting one's rear several inches forward, generally the highest part of the seat surface. Talk about unstable.

Re:Best for the back... (2, Interesting)

starwed (735423) | more than 7 years ago | (#17022218)

But we're also taught to adapt the most relaxed position possible. (At least I was.) My various piano professors all emphasized the importance of a "natural posture." Any unnecessary muscle tension results in wasted energy and can impede movement and accuracy.

Re:Best for the back... (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 7 years ago | (#17022322)

A lot of this has to do with lung capacity. Leaning forward definitely reduces lung capacity, not sure of reclining. In my experience, though, seeing the conductor over the body of a baritone might be a little difficult when reclining....

Re:Best for the back... (1)

TheFlyingGoat (161967) | more than 7 years ago | (#17022012)

The main reason you perform better when leaning forward is that the television or monitor fills more of your field of vision, allowing your brain to ignore the surrounding environment and pay more attention to the game. This is the same reason people lean forward during a conversation they're deeply involved in. You'll rarely see blind people do this.

Eyesight can also play a role, but I think that's far more obvious than the reason above.

The other reason that's applicable to computer games and not console games is the controller configuration. Obviously it's impossible to position your fingers over a keyboard and mouse properly while reclined very far. With a gamepad it's much easier.

Even if we had reclining chairs that had the keyboard positioned at the proper angle, it still would be difficult to type. Gravity would want to pull our hands away from the proper position, which would strain our arms/wrists instead of our backs.

Re:Best for the back... (1)

PieSquared (867490) | more than 7 years ago | (#17022018)

Agreed. When I started reading this, I was leaning back in my chair, probably at about a 135 degree angle. As soon as I was interested, I leaned forward past 90 degrees. If I'm playing a game, I find that if it's boring or easy I lean back, but for a more challenging fight or race or whatever I'll lean forward, perhaps even lifting the back legs of my chair off the ground. It could be that assuming a more relaxed position is... relaxing. And of course, while relaxing is good for your health it is rarely good for productivity.

Then again I might just need a bigger monitor.

Disclaimer: this comment was posted at a 135 degree reclined position.

Re:Best for the back... (1)

SoapDish (971052) | more than 7 years ago | (#17022186)

These days whenever I'm playing a video game, I'm standing up swinging my arms, or shadowboxing. If I didn't I'd just look like a toolbox.

Wiiiiiiiiiiii!

Re:Best for the back... (2, Interesting)

LurkerXXX (667952) | more than 7 years ago | (#17022250)

As someone who has spent considerable time behind a real wheel (not a game) racing, let me say that you can be plenty attentive and not at all relaxed while your back is reclined. My drivers seats were never quite at 135 degrees, but they were well past 90.

I agree you need a bigger monitor. Subconsciously you might be trying to get closer to the action going on in your monitor. When the scene is wrapped around you in real windows, there isn't the same desire to scoot the head forward.

Re:Best for the back... (2, Interesting)

EchoD (1031614) | more than 7 years ago | (#17022296)

I've found the same thing. I try to sit back in my chair and recline a little because, at the end of the day, my back aches less. I also find myself leaning forwards when I'm getting into a game, but I try to force myself to lean back and relax a little. If I'm comfortable, I can enjoy the game longer, relax more quickly when I lay down, and fall asleep faster.

Re:Best for the back... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17022476)

Reminds me of the latest South Park WOW as they're slouched waaay back in their chairs...

"Ok Kenny, drink your Elixir of the Mongoose - I'm going to use Mocking Blow..."

Re:Best for the back... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17022800)

For sure, you don't want to come to a front desk to find someone reclined asking you if he can help you out with something. That, perhaps, will look lacking interest. So I agree that it doesn't necessarily is the best for your work.

Kneeling Chair (1)

miro2 (222748) | more than 7 years ago | (#17022804)

This is the theory behind the kneeling chair, which keeps your body open at about 135-degrees. Many people feel uncomfortable when they first try them out. But it only takes a day or two to adjust. Ive been using mine for years and swear that it has improved my posture and keeps me from getting tired.

WOOT! (5, Funny)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 7 years ago | (#17021686)

To everyone who has ever criticized my working posture: IN YOUR FACE BITCHES!!!

I now return you to your regularly scheduled slouching.

Re:WOOT! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17021938)

the best position for you is bent over the armrest of the couch with your shorts around your ankles taking my outrageously hard cock right up the pooper

Re:WOOT! (1)

Speare (84249) | more than 7 years ago | (#17023044)

Meanwhile, maintaining an upright position is still the recommended posture when asking people if they "want fries with that."

Physician, Scientist... (1)

lymond01 (314120) | more than 7 years ago | (#17021692)

My doctor is an armchair anthropologist and is more than happy to ramble on about how the human musculatory, skeletal, and even pulmonary systems are designed for standing and walking, not for sitting. I'm guessing our fat butts are evolutionary from millennia of presiding over lesser beings from a big throne (the people on my TV are so small...).

Maybe if they made floors all soft and squishy like our sofas, we'd be happier standing? Or better, make computer interfaces use more body parts - standing forever is a pain, but if were doing little tapdances and knee bends the whole day, I bet you could go for hours (okay...maybe not but...).

Re:Physician, Scientist... (1)

TeknoHog (164938) | more than 7 years ago | (#17023022)

My doctor is an armchair anthropologist and is more than happy to ramble on about how the human musculatory, skeletal, and even pulmonary systems are designed for standing and walking, not for sitting.
Then shouldn't he be a standing anthropologist?

Great timing! (1)

maddogsparky (202296) | more than 7 years ago | (#17021742)

Now I can tell my wife that the time I'm spending getting my laptop to function again has been proven scientifically to be a good idea! (I tend to use my laptop while lounging on the couch or in an overstuffed chair; until it's fixed, I'm stuck using a desktop system while sitting in a chair with a broken back support).

Wait, I guess that would entail telling her I read it while wasting tim^h^h^h^h^h^h^h reading /.

Nevermind.

This is new news? (1)

jasonmicron (807603) | more than 7 years ago | (#17021746)

The ergonomic and safety group here at the company I work for has been saying this for years, mainly for back safety. Keep your legs out and lean back a bit. It eases pressure on your spine.

Workplace changes based on my study of evolution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17021784)

Into my vast plain of grey cubes I will release the occasional lion, and instead of payment, I will hide treats in various places and expect my employees to find them on their own.

Duh! (1)

smooth wombat (796938) | more than 7 years ago | (#17021786)

Anyone who has ever watched Star Trek:TNG knows that the two people at the helm, the ones doing the work, sit in a reclined position while those giving the orders sit in an upright position. Behind them are those that have to stand all day because they didn't have enough room to put in extra seats on the new, improved and larger, Enterprise compared to the original ship.

Re:Duh! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17021836)

...stand all day, slouched over the controls embedded in the railing.

Re:Duh! (2, Insightful)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 7 years ago | (#17022600)

"'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.'"

And anybody who has watched DS9 knows that Dr. Bashir isn't HUMAN- he's a genetic augment.

Re:No chairs on ST:TNG (1)

jimwelch (309748) | more than 7 years ago | (#17023168)

Actually the outside ring (science 1 & 2) had chairs, that came out of the console. They were used in several episodes. The directors only used them when a shot worked better sitting down. If they are standing up, they "fly" prettier when a weapon hits.

Experts pssh. (1)

Asrynachs (1000570) | more than 7 years ago | (#17021814)

I don't actually listen to anything back experts say. If it was up to them nobody would ever bend their backs in any circumstances. Have you ever actually tried to shovel out your driveway by doing all the bending and lifting with only your legs? It's next to impossible. It's always 'lift with your legs, lift with your legs'. It seems to me back experts are just extremely lazy. They don't want to treat any back injuries so they tell people not to use their backs, passing the buck off to the poor knee and leg experts. I can only imagine how many cases those folks get of people throwing out their knees and breaking their hips because they tried to do some activity without bending their back.

It maks me SICK

Re:Experts pssh. (1)

bdcrazy (817679) | more than 7 years ago | (#17022364)

From my experience, back experts believe that if you're going to injure something, break a leg, tear a knee, dislocate a hip, etc. Those can be fixed/replaced. Trying to get your back fixed or replaced can almost be impossible in certain circumstances. The worse thing that can realistically happen with injuring something like your lower extremities is having to get a prosthetic limb (not desireable, but at least livable). Getting a major back injury and you're in trouble. Thus, back experts tell you, don't use your back, its valuable. Kinda a flawed statement though. What else are they going to tell you? Twist while picking things up to stretch? :)

Re:Experts pssh. (1)

Asrynachs (1000570) | more than 7 years ago | (#17022740)

You follow my meaning. It gets annoying. I saw this show where they had an expert on car breaks. This guy actually said using your breaks is bad, the best thing to do is to try an gauge how long it'll take you to stop your car and just take your foot off the gas pedal and let your car roll to a stop. In the event you have to stop on a hill you can ease on the break a BIT but allow your car to rest against the bumper in the car in front or behind you depending on the case; that way your breaks will be saved. AND if you need to stop in a hurry it's better if you just jump out of the car while it's still moving and let it crash into whatever gets in its way. He said provided you're not on a bridge, statistally your car won't sustain that much damage and would likely still be driveable after the crash with the breaks completely in tact.

Re:Experts pssh. (1)

nosredna (672587) | more than 7 years ago | (#17022876)

I look at it the other way. If the doctors who are getting paid to fix my back are telling me that I should be more careful with it to avoid injury, I'm gonna listen. They're just taking money out of their own pockets, so they must take those injuries seriously.

Now, if your back specialist has a brother who works on knees, I'd recommend getting the tin-foil hat out.

Curling and slithering like a worm is good too (5, Interesting)

greymond (539980) | more than 7 years ago | (#17021830)

No seriously, that's what I was told, kinda.

My work had some ergonomics person come in and monitor us for a few minutes and ask us questions about our chairs and desks. Apparently someone at my work must have developed some sort of carpal tunnel or something because in the 6 years I've been here this was the first time I was ever asked about how I liked my desk or chair. Anyway I don't actually sit in my chair, I tend to curl up into it, and essentially I sit on one leg at a time and lean to the left or right depending on which leg is under me. I also am a big fan of occasionally placing both feet up on the APC under the desk and leaning from side to side.

In addition to this I don't stay in any one position very long, but rather am constantly shifting or moving from time to time. The lady interviewing me told me that this was actually good and that only people who confine themselves to one given position for a very long time (read entire work day) are the ones who generally have trouble or develop problems with their joints.

So slither and fidget in your chair, it's good for you.

Guess kneeling chairs got it right. (1)

KokorHekkus (986906) | more than 7 years ago | (#17021834)

Stokke and other kneeling chairs (see http://www.backinaction.co.uk/kneeling [backinaction.co.uk] ) got it right then and really knew what they were doing. I have tried a chair like that myself for a while when I did some data entry while at the university. It did feel a bit weird first but you felt that 'tensed-tired-back' after sitting on them.

The negative side? They cost to much I think.

Re:Guess kneeling chairs got it right. (4, Informative)

greg1104 (461138) | more than 7 years ago | (#17022916)

Kneeling in a chair pushes much of your body's weight onto your knees and hips. They'll breakdown under the strain just as badly as your spine will over time. I used to like that type of design when I was a kid; after using a kneeling chair for a year in my early 30's, I found my hips so inflammed from it that I still have trouble walking, quite some time later.

What you want to do is spread your weight over as large a surface area as possible in order to minimize the strain on any one part, which means a chair that leans backward you're resting against. These latest suggestions seems similar to the "Zero Gravity" chairs that claim they're based on NASA research on reducing pressure on the spine (I'd love to find a real citation for that rather than just sales copy). I purchased a cheap recliner based on that type of design from General Superstore [generalsuperstore.com] that I've been happy with. At the office, I just lean my chair back; after a full day of working my back and hips feel dramatically better in that position than they ever did when I was sitting up straight.

While I'm babbling on this topic, I'd also suggest those trying to improve their back health look at the recommendations from Dr. Bookspan [drbookspan.com] I've become a real fan of some of the exercises she recommends there, and much of the most useful information from her is free on the web site.

My Favorte Position (1)

BryanL (93656) | more than 7 years ago | (#17021864)

That's my favorite sexual position as well. What? I have sex...really!

Re:My Favorte Position (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17022564)

blow up dolls don't count... otherwise i also have sex

Dr. Bashir (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17021868)

Dr. Bashir did this study? Life must be more boring on Deep Space 9 after the Dominion War than I thought...

One thing they forgot... (1)

csoto (220540) | more than 7 years ago | (#17021916)

It works best if you put half your palm down your pants, just under the belt, like this guy [bundyology.com] ...

Finally, some recognition! (4, Funny)

Sentry21 (8183) | more than 7 years ago | (#17021956)

So basically what this study is saying is that by leaning back, putting my feet up on my computer, and moving my keyboard to my lap, I'm not only the most laid-back free-thinking rebel at the office, I'm also the most health-conscious? My boss will be glad to hear it!

Lessons from DS9 (2, Funny)

jyuter (48936) | more than 7 years ago | (#17021978)

There was a DS9 episode where Odo was a solid [memory-alpha.org] and had back problems from sitting too stiffly. Maybe the Doctors Bashir should consult with each other more often.

Re:Lessons from DS9 (2, Interesting)

LoadStar (532607) | more than 7 years ago | (#17022164)

Likewise, if you look at the first season "Conn" and "Ops" seats on the Enterprise-D on The Next Generation, they were reclined at what I'd guestimate was a 130-140 degree angle... and much of the time, the cast was said to fall asleep in those chairs, proving how comfortable that seated position was. Guess they knew something too.

Admiral Rickover knew this... (4, Interesting)

scheming daemons (101928) | more than 7 years ago | (#17021980)

I work for a Navy contractor. Admiral Hyman Rickover, the founder of the "nuclear navy", was your typical hard-ass type-A personality.

In his office he had two inches chopped off of the front two legs of his "guest" chairs, which forced guests in his office to be leaning forward. This put them in an uncomfortable position and gave him a subliminal "upper hand" over his guests.

Adm. Rickover knew this 50 years ago. This study is nothing but a confirmation of common sense.

Re:Admiral Rickover knew this... (1)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | more than 7 years ago | (#17022394)

It's likely that 50 years ago (during the cold war) there weren't many Soviet admirals walzting around the Nautilus. So we can assume he was doing this to fellow officers only.

That said, what an ass.

Welcome to the 70's (4, Interesting)

SpeedBump0619 (324581) | more than 7 years ago | (#17022226)

The summary is a little misleading. The article actually doesn't say anything about reclining, it is talking about a lap to abdomen angle greater than 90 degrees, with the optimal angle being about 135 degrees. This isn't a new finding, though perhaps this is the first research backing it up. People have been making kneeling chairs for a long time now. I had one when I was in high school.

Since I have never found a kneeling chair that doesn't suck I tend to sit on the edge of my chair with my knees down, roughly approximating the "optimal" 135 degree angle. Rough on the chair, but over the long haul it makes my back happier.

Re:Welcome to the 70's (1)

Peyna (14792) | more than 7 years ago | (#17022964)

it is talking about a lap to abdomen angle greater than 90 degrees, with the optimal angle being about 135 degrees

So the easiest way to achieve this and still be able to work is to raise your seat height a little bit. Of course, then your keyboard might be too low and you'll be bending your wrists backwards.

They are not talking about kneel-chairs (2, Insightful)

dstone (191334) | more than 7 years ago | (#17023198)

The article actually doesn't say anything about reclining

No, the article specifically describes the posture as reclining. FTFA:
The patients assumed ... a "relaxed" position where the patient reclines backward 135 degrees while the feet remain on the floor.

You could achieve the 135 degree angle with a kneel-chair, but that's not what these researchers studied, so their conclusion can't necessarily be extended to kneel-chairs.

missing the point (1)

drDugan (219551) | more than 7 years ago | (#17022256)

Main bullet from TFA:
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2-2475021, 00.html [timesonline.co.uk]
* "back pain is part of human nature"

This is crap. Most "human nature" is a result of our activities and culture (long term), not the cause. The real nature of people is very simple: have the good feelings and avoid the bad ones. That is it. Most everything else about how we act is learned.

We need to rethink this idea that humans have evolved to be ABLE to sit in a cubicle for 8 hours a day, 200 days a year and function. They didn't. Humans need to be active, challenged and mobile. The reason sitting people have back pain is because they are sitting so much. Hmmmm, let's arrange the deck chairs and tell people to sit differently???

Re:missing the point (1)

vinnythenose (214595) | more than 7 years ago | (#17022424)

sit in a cubicle for 8 hours a day, 200 days a year and function

Man, I wish I got as much vacation time as you!

Re:missing the point (1)

LunaticTippy (872397) | more than 7 years ago | (#17022932)

That's only 10 days off a year. I get that many paid holidays. Most people also get 10 vacation days and possibly sick leave. I'll admit that 8 hours a day is on the low side for most people in IT, but 200 days a year is realistic.

Re:missing the point (1)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | more than 7 years ago | (#17022626)

We need to rethink this idea that humans have evolved to be ABLE to sit in a cubicle for 8 hours a day, 200 days a year and function. They didn't.

More basic than that -- they can't. Evolution usually takes, oh, several million years?

Re:missing the point (1)

drDugan (219551) | more than 7 years ago | (#17022884)

exactly. during those several million years of human evolution, mostly there were no cubicles and no office chairs. what humans are doing today is not how we evolved. this is causing our pain.

I was not implying that we should (or could) evolve to fit the cubicle chairs, but that we should change what we do to better fit the bodies humans have evolved.

 

How old were the test subjects ? (1)

richg74 (650636) | more than 7 years ago | (#17022358)

I'm wondering about the age of the subjects of this experiment, and whether that might have affected the results. When I was younger (in my thirties, say), I would probably have said that the conclusion of the study was obvious. Now I'm in my fifties, and I get quite uncomfortable if I have to sit in a typical "reclined" position for more than a few minutes; I much prefer a straight-backed chair. (There are some reclining seats that I'm comfortable in, but not many.)

I do have some arthritis in my lower back, probably aggravated by a cycling crash a few years ago. Maybe that accounts for the difference, but I'm still curious.

Re:How old were the test subjects ? (1)

LunaticTippy (872397) | more than 7 years ago | (#17022998)

Well now we know why youngin's slouch and geezers yell "Sit up straight!"

The easiest way, of course, is to use reverse psychology. Get on my lawn!

Why not go on? (5, Funny)

gusmao (712388) | more than 7 years ago | (#17022446)

Sitting in a angle smaller than 90 degrees -> bad
Sitting upright -> better
Sitting in 135 degrees -> healthy
Sitting in 180 degrees -> wow, that feels great!

So basically they've found out that the more you incline backward the less you put preassure on your body. Very impressive. Too bad we can't lay down and work at the same time.

Re:Why not go on? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17022560)

Too bad we can't lay down and work at the same time.

Prostitutes found a way.

Re:Why not go on? (5, Funny)

killmenow (184444) | more than 7 years ago | (#17022622)

Too bad we can't lay down and work at the same time.
There is a profession (perhaps the oldest) in which this is quite common.

That's what I always do. (1)

RoloDMonkey (605266) | more than 7 years ago | (#17022532)

I always lean back while working at the computer. My posterior is close to the front edge of the chair and the bottoms of my shoulder blades are on top of the back of the chair. My shoulders, neck, and head are actually behind the chair, and my legs are out front. This violates every rule that I learned and repeated to my typing classes. My family has a history of back problems, and yet I work 8 hours a day like this and I am perfectly comfortable. I'm glad that someone is looking in to this. Now we just have to convince observers that taking this position doesn't mean you are lazy.

seated position? (1)

p33p3r (918997) | more than 7 years ago | (#17022556)

How does this information relate to career politician's longevity
by bending over backwards to special interest groups, than
standing tall before the constituents that voted them into office?

herniated disc (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17022618)

I herniated my S5-L1 disc last month while getting out of bed. For me, sitting up straight or leaning forward are the absolute worst positions. Now, I get quick feedback down my sciatic nerve. If I need to sit down, leaning back at 135 degrees is definitely the way to go. Standing up or laying down are the most comfortable positions.

Feet up even better (1)

RPGonAS400 (956583) | more than 7 years ago | (#17022716)

If my back is at the 135 degree mark, and my feet are on my desk, better yet!!

Now all I need to do is forward this to my boss (and make sure my eyes are open).

My neck, my back... (1)

llZENll (545605) | more than 7 years ago | (#17022730)

(Kia) first you got to put your neck into, come on... o wait...

I find that when leaning back my neck gets sore only after a few hours, perhaps if your monitor was hung from the ceiling 135 would be good, but for a long period of time I think you are going to have just as many neck problems as back problems.

Moo (1)

Chacham (981) | more than 7 years ago | (#17022760)

The "slouch" position revealed a reduction in spinal disk height, signifying a high rate of wear and tear on the lowest two spinal levels. Across all measurements, the researchers concluded that the 135-degree position fared the best.

Um, ok....

"This may be all that is necessary to prevent back pain, rather than trying to cure pain that has occurred over the long term due to bad postures," he added. "Employers could also reduce problems by providing their staff with more appropriate seating, thereby saving on the cost of lost work hours."

IOW, they proved what they thought and used it to make conclusions not proven. What utter rubbish.

They also did not take into account how people sat before this study. Sitting up stright is uncomfortable at first, but in general becomes very comfortable, and keeps the person more alert. Playing piano in any position other that straight up will cuase hand or back pain, and people with chronic back pain need to sit up stright to feel comfortable.

What utter rubbish.

Created??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17022782)

We were not created to sit down for long hours

Of course not, we evolved that way.

With early ancestors walking on all four, and later standing up (which is already bad for the back) and not having Aeron chairs to sit on for the past millions of years, it seems natural that we're certainly not designed for sitting down.

Seems like another argument against creation... Or for a lousy creator. :-P

Wait (3, Funny)

nizo (81281) | more than 7 years ago | (#17022838)

What about hanging upside down? If only they had found hanging upside down to be the healthiest non-standing posture, we could look forward to a wide array of new chair/desk/computer arrangements. And don't even get me started on how happy many big corps would be if they could hang employees from the ceiling, doubling the number of people they can cubicalize in a given space.

If it's too late for you.... (4, Interesting)

gilgongo (57446) | more than 7 years ago | (#17022874)

If this news comes too late for you and you are already feeling the effects of your lower back being gradually compacted to the point where even standing up for much longer than 10mins begins to ache, then act now to reverse the effects!

- Avoid sitting. Stand up and walk around every half hour. More often if possible.

- When you are sitting, try to lean back like TFA says.

- Every night, before you go to bed, decompress your lower spine: lie on your back and put a few books (about 4-5 inches high) beneath your coccyx. NOT the small of you back - I'm talking about the top of your butt-crack: there is a flat area of bone there, put the pile of books there and lie out flat with your arms over your head for a few minutes. If it hurts - then it's doing some good. If you feel a "crack" then even better: that's some tension coming out.

- Turn over and do the "cobra" position. Plant your hands on the floor and jam your hips down to the ground so that your spine bends backwards in a massive curve. Keep this position (and keep your head and neck up straight) for a few minutes at a time.

- If you're not fit, consider also doing some stomach curls (Google 'em) and lower back strengthening routines. The better your musculature is around there, the better those muscles can support your spine and prevent injury by sudden movement. Movement which, if your lower spine is compressed by lots of sitting, will be more damaging.

There is it. Your 5-mins per day spinal insurance policy.

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor - I'm (former) back pain sufferer that got rid of the pain by doing the above.

Extrapolating.... (1)

Junta (36770) | more than 7 years ago | (#17022894)

So if 90 degree is worst, 90 degree is medium, 135 degree is better, 180 degree should be best.

I think my work place should let me work lying down completely, for my health....

Is 135 degrees really necessary? (2, Interesting)

kevintron (1024817) | more than 7 years ago | (#17023226)

Too bad the article doesn't mention what the researchers plan to investigate next. An angle of 135 degrees between torso and thighs puts you halfway to lying down flat on your back. I'd be interested in learning whether similar benefits can be gained by reclining to just 100 degrees, or 105, or maybe 110.

Old-school management types might more readily accept a slightly reclined posture than one that takes your torso 45 degrees away from the vertical.

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