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Sexual Positions and Back Pain

by Roberto Russo

A study was published in the European Spine Journal1 and aimed to determine which sexual positions would be most appropriate in women with low back pain. You may already predict the outcomes but the approach the research team used to study this issue is considered the most comprehensive thus far. They used motion capture systems to track 3-Dimensional spinal movements in 10 couples whilst they ‘enjoyed’ having sex, although they did not mention how many times they needed to review the footage to ensure accurate readings. Interestingly they mention that the presentation of the sexual position was randomised, for a reason I cannot fathom.

Anyway, what did they find? (I have changed the terminology used for ease of understanding)

  • Missionary position, augmented with a pillow to provide low back support, was best for women who are extension intolerant.
  • If the woman is flexion intolerant then either spooning or doggy style are best.
  • If doggy style is chosen then the women will find it better to rest on her elbows rather than hands.

So you may ask, how about men? Well the same research group had published that previously, interestingly in another journal (Spine)2 and the results were as follows;

  • Doggy style had a higher speed cycle compared to spooning or missionary positions.
  • Lumbar spine movement varied with the different positions but was mostly into flexion.
  • Doggy style is best for those men who are flexion intolerant and spooning is best for extension intolerant.

www.abc.net.auWhilst the tone of this article has been a little tongue in cheek (and please do excuse the pun) it does provide very useful information on a subject that is indeed very important for our patients. It can be an awkward conversation (personally speaking perhaps – even though I feel comfortable with the subject matter) and one that I confess I therefore don’t often initiate. However, the likelihood is that this is most probably a major concern for those we treat with back pain and so I sincerely thank the researchers who, in addition to the valuable information noted above, have now given me a reason / strategy with which to introduce the subject.

Reference
  1. Sidorkewicz N, McGill SM. Eur Spine J. 2014: Epub Oct 24
  2. Sidorkewicz N, McGill SM. Spine. 2014: 39 (20); 1633-1639