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Don't Sit Up Straight: Why Good Posture Is Bad for Your Back
Remember all those well-meaning people who told you to sit up straight? Turns out it was bad advice.
Using MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging), researchers in Scotland determined which positions are best and worst for our backs. Volunteers tested three different sitting positions: slouching forward over a desk, sitting upright at 90 degrees, and a relaxed, reclining position at 135 degrees.
Scientists measured the angles of the spine and disc height looking for movements that caused undue strain on the discs. They learned that sitting upright caused the most strain on the discs, while a relaxed position caused less strain. In other words, sitting up straight is the worst way to sit, but a laid-back posture might be the best.
All this comes as very good news to someone who spent most of her life hunched over a computer. Until I discovered yoga, I was a first-class sloucher. In fact, I went to my first yoga class because all those hours spent hovering over a desk caused my shoulders to tense up into tight knots.
Until we hear otherwise, I'll continue to assume that knots of tension are still bad for your back. And though my posture has improved over the years (and thousands of downward dogs), it's good to know that all those years of less-than-perfect posture weren't so bad after all.
Like slouching, fidgeting also went from being a bad habit to a health boon. A few years back, a study came out claiming that fidgeting facilitates weight loss and maintenance, by helping to burn off extra calories.
Meanwhile, I want to get a jump on things and start biting my fingernails. I'm sure we'll hear about the health benefits of that soon enough.