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Since you were in kindergarten, parents and teachers have admonished you to sit up straight. Now groundbreaking research suggests their advice may have been off base. A recent study of 22 healthy male and female subjects measures strain on the spine using an upright MRI machine. Subjects were scanned in three sitting positions (forward-leaning, 90 degrees, and 135 degrees), and the results were compared against the most comfortable vertebral position -- lying down.
According to lead investigator Waseem Bashir, a clinical fellow in the department of radiology and diagnostic imaging at University of Alberta Hospital in Canada, the forward-leaning and upright postures "reverse the natural curvature of the spine and put a lot pf pressure on it." As a result, the internal spinal disks squeeze together and lose water, which could lead to long-term back problems. However, sitting at a reclined position caused disks to move the least, confirming that it's the best sitting posture for a healthy back.