If anniversaries, one night stands, and friendly flings have lost their spark, each becoming more exhausting and painful than their worth, then you might find that a little extra attention on your back might fix everything. Recently published research from PhD student Natalie Sidorkewicz and Dr. Stuart McGill of UW’s faculty of applied health science may be able to offer some insight into certain lower back pains that females experience during sex. Their research on female spine movements during sex is the second portion of their study. The first portion, released earlier in the semester, focused on men and was covered by <em>Imprint</em> Sept. 19. Sidorkewicz’s and McGill’s research found that lower back pain presents itself mainly in two ways: either through flexion movements or extension movements. According to Sidorkewicz, an individual may be thought of as flexion intolerant if their pain is triggered by flexion movements; this refers to pain that is triggered during actions such as bending down to touch your toes or sitting for long periods of time. Alternatively, someone thought to be extension intolerant would feel pain when they bend backwards, this includes pain induced by arching your back or lying on your stomach. Typically, spooning is the go-to position suggested to patients dealing with lower back pain; however, that may not always be the best form of treatment. Sidorkewicz explains that some movements may cause pain while others may bring relief. Although there are similarities in triggers amongst patients, two patients will rarely experience the same kind of pain even if they share a common trigger. In order to alleviate pain caused by flexion movements, the best solution would be to try extension movements. Likewise, they found that flexion positions would best alleviate pains triggered by extension movements. “If going left hurts, then you’re going to go right, but if going right hurts, you’re going to go to your left,” Sidorkewicz said. Their study looked at three common sex positions: missionary, spooning, and doggy-style. During missionary style, the best way for females to avoid lower back pain is to try to maintain a neutral back in order to improve their back support. “For females, the variations were either that her hips and knees were very flexed or less flexed,” Sidorkewicz said. While spooning, the female spine is most in extension; if extension movements increase pain, then Sidorkewicz recommends avoiding spooning altogether. Alternatively, “for an extension tolerant female, spooning was actually recommended” Sidorkewicz said. Doggy-style offers the most neutral position for the spine. Sidorkewicz suggested two variations for this position. “Either that she was supporting herself on her elbows and knees or her hands and knees. Hands are especially recommended for those who are more flexion intolerant, as it provides the greatest upper-body support.” This portion of their research followed the spine motions of 10 healthy couples; in the future, Sidorkewicz and McGill plan to switch their focus, instead studying spine movements of males and females with pre-existing back concerns.
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