Sorry honey, not tonight, my back is too sore

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Do you have back pain? Your fav sexual position may be contributing.

79% of the population have had low back pain (LBP). And sex is considered by health professionals as an ADL – activity of daily living (if you’re lucky). Therefore, the position you have sex in, may be hindering your rehabilitation. Sex also can have a huge effect on your quality of life – somewhere between 43-78% of women with LBP report a marked reduction in sexual activity frequency due to an increase in discomfort and decrease in pleasure.

Some considerate Canadian researchers looked at the effect of 5 common sexual positions on the movement of the lumbar spine via infrared and EMG and came up with these recommendations:

 For women with LBP exacerbated by bending forward or sitting for long periods, these positions are best:

  • on all fours – resting on hands, not elbows
  • spooning

And these positions may exacerbate pan:

  • on all fours – resting on elbows
  • missionary

For women with LBP exacerbated by arching backwards or lying on their stomach, these positions are best:

  • missionary with knees and hips bent a lot (a pillow under pelvis may help too)

For men with low back pain exacerbated by bending forward or sitting for long periods, these positions are best:

  • Behind the woman with hip-hinging motion rather than spine thrusting

And these positions may exacerbate pain:

  • spooning
  • missionary with supporting himself on elbows

For men with LBP exacerbated by arching backwards, they should adopt these positions:

  • spooning
  • missionary when supporting himself on elbows

Basically, sexual positions that are suitable for one type of LBP, are not suitable for others. So if your favourite pose-ish just isn’t working for you at the moment, go and see a physio!

NB: I’d love some even more considerate researchers to do a similar study on non-heterosexual sex, and maybe some more interesting positions such as the 69er (best enjoyed on your wedding night), the reverse cowboy and the pretzel…..

For more info:

Sidorkewicz, N., & McGill, S. M. (2014). Male Spine Motion During Coitus: Implications for the Low Back Pain Patient. Spine39(20), 1633–1639. http://doi.org/10.1097/BRS.0000000000000518

Sidorkewicz, N., & McGill, S. M. (2015). Documenting female spine motion during coitus with a commentary on the implications for the low back pain patient. European Spine Journal24(3), 513-520.

– the vagina physio

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