Lower back pain is not fun. It can make walking and putting on your socks and playing your favorite sport agonizing. It can also, unsurprisingly, make sex a lot of more difficult, so a team of researchers decided to stick some frisky couples in some lab rooms, flip on the motion-capture equipment (they said it was motion-capture equipment, at least … ), and attempt to figure out which sex positions are the best bet for guys (but not gals) with lower back pain. They’ve just published their results in the journal Spine.
The researchers had the couples have sex in five positions: two versions of doggy-style, two versions of missionary, and “sidelying” (spooning, basically). The motion-capture equpiment was to determine which positions put which sorts of stress on the lucky couples’ spines.
The best bet, if you’re a dude with lower back pain? Well, it’s slightly complicated, and it depends on whether you have what’s referred to as flexion-intolerant versus extension-intolerant lower back pain. Plus, the authors note that this is a very early draft at understanding this stuff — all five positions were “male-centric,” for one thing (and, it should be said, pretty vanilla), and none of the participants had preexisting injuries or back pain. Still, here’s a very NSFW illustration from the study that I will not be embedding to use as a guide.
Early draft or no, what a study! From the “Methods” section …
Ten healthy males and females engaged in coitus in the following preselected positions and variations: QUADRUPED, MISSIONARY, and SIDELYING. An optoelectronic motion capture system was used to measure 3-dimensional lumbar spine angles that were normalized to upright standing.
… to details of how each “trial” worked …
participants signaled the researcher when they had reached what they considered to be their “natural coital speed and/or rhythm”—data collection for each trial began at this point.
to the broader context of the study …
To our knowledge, a biomechanical analysis of coitus has never been conducted[.]
All kidding aside, sex is an important quality-of-life issue for a lot of people, and lower back pain has obviously messed up many a sex life. Hopefully this line of research will continue and improve. And don’t worry, ladies — at the end of the paper, the researchers note that “female-centric” studies are the next step.