The Functional Back

Back pain self-treatment featuring the Hubble Method

Science tackles the best sexual positions for back pain

There are lots of back pain “rules” for the best sitting, standing, lying, exercise, and other positions to use. The vast majority are based on opinion. So it is with sex—until now. In a great example of science challenging conventional wisdom, a group of Canadian researchers tackled the taboo topic the Masters and Chambers way. What did they find?

Prolific spine biomechanics researcher Stuart Williams, PhD, and his team recruited 10 healthy (and presumably very outgoing) couples. They then attached a bunch of electrodes and other sensors to them, instructed them to use various sexual positions, and measured the resulting movements and muscular activity.

It turns out conventional wisdom isn’t so wise. The positions your doctor might have told you to use to relieve back pain are typically the opposite of what Dr. Williams and his team found reduced challenging spine movement and muscle activation. As we strive to keep this website family-friendly and away from spam filters, please refer to the original Washington Post article to check on the recommended positions.

In general, here are the recommendations from this study:

  1. Control the movement with the hip and knee to spare your spine.
  2. When not controlling the movement, maintain a neutral spine position to reduce back strain.
  3. If you have pain when you bend forward, don’t spoon.
  4. If you have pain when you bend backward, stay off your back and stomach.

So there you have it! If you have been avoiding sexual activity due to pain, give these recommendations (and the specific ones in the original article) a try. A few notes on study limitations:

  1. This is a pilot study of only 10 couples.
  2. This study focused on men, not women. A future study will focus on the female perspective.
  3. The study participants didn’t have back pain. A future study will focus on back pain sufferers.