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Study Finds Best Sex Positions for People with Bad Backs

Update Date: Sep 10, 2014 10:00 AM EDT

People should not miss out on having a healthy sex life because of their back pain. In a new study conducted by researchers from the University of Waterloo in Canada, the team examined how the spine moves during sex in order to find the optimal positions for people suffering from back pain.

"Any family doctor will tell you that couples often ask them how to manage their back pain during and after sex. Many couples will remain celibate because one night of love-making can lead to months of back agony," said Professor Stuart McGill, of Waterloo's Faculty of Applied Health Sciences reported in the press release. "Until now, doctors have never had any hard science to base their recommendations upon."

For this study, the team recruited 10 couples that were instructed to attempt five of the most common sex positions. As they were recreating these positions, the researchers used a combination of infrared and electromagnetic motion capture systems to examined the movement of the spine. These systems are commonly used to create video games. The results helped the researchers create a set of guidelines.

The researchers found that contrary to popular belief, spooning, which is often recommended by physicians, is not a position that fits everyone. Instead, the team found different beneficial positions for different kinds of back pain.

"Spooning is often recommended by physicians as the one position that fits all. But we've found that's not the best advice," said lead author Natalie Sidorkewicz, a PhD candidate at Waterloo according to the University's news release. "There are sex positions that someone with one type of back pain may find comfortable, but that very same position may increase the back pain of another individual with different pain triggers."

For example, men who are flexion-intolerant, which means that their backs hurt when they either sit for too long or when they touch their toes, should experience less pain if they use the doggy-style position as opposed to spooning. The recommendation also states that men use a hip-hinging movement as opposed to thrusting, which would put pressure on their spines. For men who are extension-intolerant, which means that their pain is triggered by arching their backs, they should use the missionary or spooning positions.

"For the first time ever, we now have very solid science to guide clinicians on their recommendations for patients who suffer debilitating back pain, but still want to be intimate," said Sidorkewicz. "This has the potential to improve quality of life - and love-life - for many couples."

The researchers reported that their findings on women should be reported within the next few months. This study was published in the journal, Spine.

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