"Really the best position is what you get in a La-Z-Boy, although that wouldn't work well for someone using a computer," said Dr. Waseem Amir Bashir, who led a study conducted at Woodend Hospital in Aberdeen, Scotland.
Bashir's findings, which confirm what experts in ergonomics have believed, were presented at the McCormick Place meeting of the Radiological Society of North America. His conclusions come from getting a different view of the spine, using a newly designed magnetic resonance imaging machine that allows for a full view of the back while sitting.
Assuming any position for a long period is a bad practice, said Judy Lesse, an ergonomics consultant for Herman Miller. "We design our chairs so that people can change positions regularly," she said. "You may find it difficult to lean back while using a computer, but you can lean back while talking on the phone."
Dave Trippany, corporate ergonomist for Steelcase Inc., a Grand Rapids, Mich., maker of office furniture, said that "flexibility is the key. People should move around to increase circulation. Reclining is part of that."