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The Scientific World Journal
Volume 2012, Article ID 184016, 7 pages
Research Article

The Spinal Curvature of Three Different Sitting Positions Analysed in an Open MRI Scanner

1Institute for Biomechanics, ETH Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland
2School of Engineering, Winterthur, Switzerland
3Röntgeninstitut Zürich-Altstetten, Zurich, Switzerland
4Spine Surgery, 8700 Küsnacht, Switzerland

Received 24 September 2012; Accepted 14 October 2012

Academic Editors: F. Galbusera and D. Gastaldi

Copyright © 2012 Daniel Baumgartner 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.


Sitting is the most frequently performed posture of everyday life. Biomechanical interactions with office chairs have therefore a long-term effect on our musculoskeletal system and ultimately on our health and wellbeing. This paper highlights the kinematic effect of office chairs on the spinal column and its single segments. Novel chair concepts with multiple degrees of freedom provide enhanced spinal mobility. The angular changes of the spinal column in the sagittal plane in three different sitting positions (forward inclined, reclined, and upright) for six healthy subjects (aged 23 to 45 years) were determined using an open magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner. An MRI-compatible and commercially available office chair was adapted for use in the scanner. The midpoint coordinates of the vertebral bodies, the wedge angles of the intervertebral discs, and the lumbar lordotic angle were analysed. The mean lordotic angles were (mean ± standard deviation) in a forward inclined position, in an upright position, and in a reclined position. All segments from T10-T11 to L5-S1 were involved in movement during positional changes, whereas the range of motion in the lower lumbar segments was increased in comparison to the upper segments.