SHERYL UBELACKER, THE CANADIAN PRESS
For many people, intimacy in the bedroom often takes a back seat to low back pain, say researchers, who have scientifically determined the best sexual positions to prevent spinal muscles from seizing up at an inopportune moment.
In what they believe is the first biomechanical study of its kind, researchers at the University of Waterloo have found that certain positions are better than others for keeping different kinds of back pain at bay.
And they’ve thrown out the long-held belief that spooning — where partners lie sideways curled back to front — is the only pose for back-saving sex.
“Before now, spooning was often recommended by physicians as the one position that fit all. But as we’ve discovered, that is not the case,” said Natalie Sidorkewicz, a PhD candidate and lead author of the paper published Thursday in the journal Spine.
“What that failed to do was recognize that there are all sorts of triggers for back pain,” she said from Waterloo, Ont. “So someone may find relief in one position that may cause pain for someone else.”
To conduct the study, the researchers recruited 10 heterosexual couples, with an average age of about 30, to have sexual intercourse in a controlled laboratory setting.
Each participant was fitted with remote sensors, which tracked how their spines moved when they engaged in five common sex positions. Infrared and electromagnetic motion capture systems — such as those used to animate figures in video games and films — showed how the men’s and women’s spines flexed when they assumed each position.
“So we were able to actually determine what angle the spine is at, at each moment in time that they’re having sex,” said Sidorkewicz, adding that electrodes on participants’ skin also captured activity in their core and hip muscles.
The findings were used to create an atlas, or set of guidelines, that recommends different sex positions and thrusting techniques based on what movements trigger a patient’s pain.