Upright or Reclined?: Why We Advocate Maintaining a Neutral Spine

Here at Lumo BodyTech, we advocate upright posture with a neutral pelvis and a straight, stacked spine. Our technology is designed to detect pelvic tilt and Lumo Back gives you a gentle vibration to remind you when you slouch out of a neutral pelvis position.

Charles Wang, M.D. Co-Founder

Charles Wang, M.D.
Co-Founder

We are often asked, however, why we believe this is the healthiest posture. One often-quoted study from 2006, for example, suggests that sitting in a reclined position with a 135-degree angle between your thighs and torso is the best position for your back health.

I love getting questions from all of our smart and curious Lumo Backers, so I wanted to explain why Lumo Back is designed to promote neutral pelvis posture.

First of all, we believe that the best posture is always the next posture. Our bodies were made to move, so frequent movement is always preferable to any sedentary position. Even if you have to sit all day at work, standing up for a quick stretch break or short walk to the water cooler is an easy way to “reset” your posture and improve your health.  Try to do this as often as you can.

Obviously, we do all have to sit and stand still sometimes. When you maintain a neutral pelvic position with a straight and upright back, the vertebrae in your back are nicely aligned. This takes a lot of pressure off of your spine and back muscles, which can reduce back pain.

 The study that advocates sitting in a 135-degree position suggests that such a position places less strain on your low back because it minimizes the amount of spinal disc movement that occurs. We don’t believe that this reclined posture is ideal for a number of reasons.

Diagram from the aformentioned study, advocating a reclined seated position.  Source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/6187080.stm

Diagram from the aformentioned study, advocating a reclined seated position. Note that LUMOback recommends a more upright seated posture. 
Source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/6187080.stm

 

First, it is very difficult to maintain. Your back still needs to be straight in a reclined position for this position to be beneficial. While a well designed reclining chair at home might offer adequate support, most chairs make it difficult to sit in a reclined position without collapsing your lower back into a harmful kyphotic, or slouchy, position.

Second, it causes neck and upper back strain. As shown in the above image of a 135 degree reclining position, there is a huge tendency to jut your neck forward and out of line with your spine in order to read or look at a screen.  A 135 degree position, while comfortable if you are lounging and keeping your neck and upper back aligned and supported with the lower back, is not a functional position for us to work for a sustained period of time.  In an office setting, you’re likely to have to crane your neck to see your computer screen and strain your upper back and shoulders to reach a keyboard. Thus, any potential lower back benefits of a reclined position are outweighed by the negative impacts on your upper back and neck.

Upright posture is the most functional for

Upright posture with a neutral pelvic position is the most functional for office work.

The neutral pelvis and lumbar spinal posture we are advocating is most functional for the longest period of time, making it useful in doing the desk work and computer work that has become the mainstay of many of our occupations.

Click here to learn how to get into good posture.

I am by no means saying that you need to ditch your comfy recliner at home or that sinking into a plush couch for a little while is necessarily harmful. However, we believe that maintaining upright posture with a neutral pelvis is one of the best and easiest ways to promote good back health, especially in a work environment, and to improve appearance and confidence.

So remember: sit straight, stand tall, and keep moving!