Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Got back pain? Be more 'laid back'

Relaxing your back when computing ...

"Sitting up straight is not the best position for your lower back. You need to lean back a bit to save your spine.

Scottish researchers said recently that a look at the spine with new imaging technology reveals how sitting upright with a straight back and thighs parallel to the floor increases the strain on lumbar discs in the lower back. It's better to lean back a bit in a chair, even if it looks like slouching.

"Really the best position is what you get in a La-Z-Boy, although that wouldn't work well for someone using a computer," said Dr. Waseem Amir Bashir, who led a study conducted at Woodend Hospital in Aberdeen, Scotland.

His conclusions come from getting a different view of the spine, using a newly designed magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine that allows for a full view of the back while sitting.

Conventional MRI equipment requires the patient to lie down while images are taken, but this puts the spine in an unstressed position, Bashir said. By making images when people are upright in a chair, he said, he was able to capture instabilities and deformations not otherwise seen.

Lower back pain is almost universal, afflicting eight out of 10 Americans at some point, the National Institutes of Health estimates. It is the second most common reason people visit a physician, after colds and the flu, and accounts for an estimated 93 million days of lost work annually, at an estimated cost of $11 billion.

Bashir said that people weren't designed to sit in front of computer screens for hours at a time, but that by assuming a more open sitting position, one can minimize the risk of back pain."    (Continued via Minneapolis Star Tribune)    [Usability Resources]

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