For many Americans sudden, ferocious, often high pitched screams and bed-rattling, body-shaking movements are sadly more associated with agonizing back pain than with pleasurable orgasms during intercourse. The American Chiropractic Association reports that 31,000,000 Americans suffer from lower back pain, making it the number one disability effecting Americans. For years physicians have been recommending "spooning" as the most spine-friendly sexual position but recent scientific studies prove a sexual position that is good for one person may not be the best answer for another. Does that mean sex has to be "put to bed" while health takes precedence? Not according to recent research from the University of Waterloo in Canada. For the first time ever, scientists have successfully documented the way the spine moves during sex and discovered exactly why certain positions are better than others when it comes to avoiding back pain. The results show that missionary and doggy-style, not spooning, are the most spine-friendly sexual positions.
The researchers tracked how 10 couples' spines moved in five common sex positions. Using both infrared and electromagnetic motion capture systems, they measured how the men's spine moved during sex, and created guidelines for best positions and techniques based on what movements cause pain.
Based on range of motion, researchers identified the best and worst sex positions for men.
Here's what they found:
Sexual Position mQUAD1, a variation of doggy-style-. In this variation the woman is supporting her upper body with her elbows. Flexion intolerant men- meaning men whose back pain becomes worse when they touch their toes or sit for a long period of time- will likely be much more comfortable in this position.
Sexual Position mQUAD2, a variation of doggy-style- In this variation, the woman is supporting her upper body with her hands. The study showed that this position, in addition to the mQUAD1 variation, is considered to be easier on the spine for flexion-intolerant men.
Sexual Position mMISS1, a variation of missionary style- In this variation, the man is supporting his upper body with his hands and the woman has her hips and knees slightly flexed. Along with mQUAD1 and mQUAD2, this position is considered a "spine-friendly" approach, meaning it won't exacerbate pain caused by motion and/or posture.
Sexual Position mMISS2, a variation of missionary style- In this variation, the male is supporting his elbows and the woman is more flexed at the hips and the knees. This may not be the best position for men experiencing flexion-intolerant pain. However, for extension-intolerant men--meaning me who feel pain when they arch their back-- this may be a comfortable position.
Sexual Position mSIDE, also known as spooning or sidelying- In this position, the woman and man are both lying on their left sides, and the man is behind her. Both people have their hips and knees flexed. Researchers found that this position isn't very easy on the spine, and is the least recommended position for men experiencing flexion-intolerant pain. However, it's a comfortable option for extension-intolerant men. Men who are extension-intolerant, or those who experience pain when arching their backs, will find sex in the spooning or missionary position more comfortable, especially when supporting their upper body with their elbows in missionary.
Future Research for Women with Pain- Although this study focuses on sex positions for men with back pain, the researchers said results for female pain patients should be published in the near future. The findings revealed that if women have back pain when they touch their toes or sit for long periods of time, they should use positions that use minimal spine flexion, like spooning and doggy-style while propping themselves up at the hands. If women have back pain when they arch their backs, they should use positions that use minimal spine extension, like missionary.
Prior to this study chiropractors and other physicians often recommended spooning as the "go-to" sexual position for everyone wanting to maintain a healthy sex-life while experiencing lower back pain. This study provides science based data to guide physicians on their recommendations. Research recommends the individual who is controlling the movement to use more of their hips and knees, rather than their spine. Missionary and doggy-style are found to be the ideal spine-friendly positions. Finally, there is scientific data to aid 31,000,000 Americans suffering from debilitating lower back pain with the information necessary to turn those shrieks of horror into cries of pleasure.
Natalie Sidorkewicz et al. Male Spine Motion During Coitus: Implications for the Low Back Pain Patient. Spine, September 2014
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