The researchers used a new form of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to show that sitting straight up places an unnecessary strain on your back. The study went on to tell the Radiological Society of North America that the best position in which to sit at your desk is leaning slightly back at about 135 degrees, and not straight up or crouched forward.
After work, two-thirds of people also sit down at home. The research -- carried out at Woodend Hospital in Aberdeen, Scotland -- researched 22 volunteers with healthy backs who were scanned using a positional MRI machine. This specific MRI machine allows patients the freedom to move during the test -- which means measurements can be taken while patients are seated or standing in any position.
Patients assumed three different sitting positions while being carefully monitored. The positions included a forward-slouching position, an upright 90-degree sitting position and a "relaxed" position where they leaned back at 135 degrees while their feet remained on the floor.
Within these three seating positions, the researchers took measurements of spinal angles and spinal disk height and movement across the different positions. Spinal disk movement occurs when weight-bearing strain is placed on the spine, causing the disk to move out of place.
The researchers found that disk movement was found to be most pronounced with a 90-degree upright sitting posture -- and it was least pronounced with the 135-degree posture. These results suggested that less train is placed on the spinal disks and associated muscles and tendons in a more relaxed sitting position.
In addition to the new study's findings, experts said sitting was known to contribute to lower back pain. In fact, data from the British Chiropractic Association says 32 percent of the population spends more than 10 hours a day seated, and half do not leave their desks -- even to have lunch. Experts concluded that the human body is not meant to sit for such prolonged periods of time.