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BioMed Research International
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 916045, 5 pages
Research Article

In Vivo Spinal Posture during Upright and Reclined Sitting in an Office Chair

Institute for Biomechanics, ETH Zurich, Wolfgang-Pauli Straße 10, 8093 Zurich, Switzerland

Received 25 April 2013; Revised 19 August 2013; Accepted 20 August 2013

Academic Editor: Ashish D. Diwan

Copyright © 2013 Roland Zemp et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Increasing numbers of people spend the majority of their working lives seated in an office chair. Musculoskeletal disorders, in particular low back pain, resulting from prolonged static sitting are ubiquitous, but regularly changing sitting position throughout the day is thought to reduce back problems. Nearly all currently available office chairs offer the possibility to alter the backrest reclination angles, but the influence of changing seating positions on the spinal column remains unknown. In an attempt to better understand the potential to adjust or correct spine posture using adjustable seating, five healthy subjects were analysed in an upright and reclined sitting position conducted in an open, upright MRI scanner. The shape of the spine, as described using the vertebral bodies’ coordinates, wedge angles, and curvature angles, showed high inter-subject variability between the two seating positions. The mean lumbar, thoracic, and cervical curvature angles were °, °, and ° for the upright and °, °, and ° for the reclined sitting positions. Thus, a wide range of seating adaptation is possible through modification of chair posture, and dynamic seating options may therefore provide a key feature in reducing or even preventing back pain caused by prolonged static sitting.