Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Do Slouchers Have Stronger Backs?

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Dateline 2017 - Colossus Corporate Headquarters - New York, New York

Wesley Widget, president and CEO of Colossus for the past forty-seven years, scowls as he reads the monthly risk management assessment. "This simply can't be," he mutters under his breath. "Injuries up 17% - absenteeism up 24% - medical costs up..." He frantically flips through pages seeking answers. "Aha!"

"Cranston, I need to see you in my office - now!"

He slams the phone receiver down but, seeing his "Serenity Now" mantra plaque on the corner of his desk, he closes his eyes and breaths deeply, rhythmically. Composed, he picks up the receiver and gently replaces it. "Ah - that's better."

The door opens and, as Cranston enters, serenity takes its leave.

"Cranston, have you seen this? What in the blazes happened here? Do you know how much we've spent on this project?"

Widget fidgets as Cranston crumbles.

"Sir," says Cranston in a weak voice, "it's just too much - the mothers I mean. They're just too..."

"The mothers!" Widget shouts. "What in the world do mothers have to do with ANY of this?"

"Well, sir," continues the shaken Cranston, "it doesn't appear to matter how often we remind the workers to slouch, how many Slouch for Safety posters we plaster about or how big we make the Sloucher of the Month award. Like I said, sir, it's the mothers - all the years of saying, "Jimmy, sit up straight" and "Nobody likes a sloucher" - it's just too much for us to overcome."

Knowing he's met his match, Widget fidgets no more. He slumps back in his chair, reaches out a trembling hand, and gently sends his Serenity Now plaque tumbling over the edge of his desk and into the circular file. Swiveling about, he stares blankly across the city's skyline and, a tear in his eye, whispers, "The mothers."

Sit up straight?

Researchers recently discovered the age-old advice to sit up straight is misplaced. As a matter of fact, not only does sitting up straight appear to have no beneficial impact, it actually may be the root cause of many of today's back problems.

Doctors in Scotland studied the impact of three different sitting positions using "positional" magnetic resonance imaging, a new type of MRI that allows patients to move while being tested: the 90-degree position, straight back and feet on the floor, a "hunch" position, typical of hunching over a desk or stack of papers and a "slouch" position, semi-reclining at a 135-degree angle with the feet on the floor, as if vegging in front of the television.

The results speak well for the slackers among us. The traditional position, straight back with feet on the floor, put the most strain on the back. The "hunch" position fared better, but the clear winner was the "slouch" position. It caused the least degree of spinal misalignment and, as a result, produced the least amount of strain on the spine.

Asked if the office of the future will be redesigned to encourage slouchers, the retired Wesley Widget shouted, "It's the mothers I tell you - the mothers!" He was then whisked away by a group of small men in white coats.

To read more about the study, see this from ScienceDaily.


Anonymous Bethany Joy said...

Thanks! It does seem somewhat horrible that people would even suggest slumping could be 'good' posture. But it is an intriguing idea too, because it begs the question of 'normal' vs. 'correct'. My theory is the people they tested were likely habitual slumpers, whose muscles/bone structures were adapted to the 'bad' postural positions.

9:08 PM  

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