If sex isn’t all pleasure, your position may be causing the pain. Researchers from the University of Waterloo in Ontario say back pain can be so debilitating that many couples will forgo fornicating just to save themselves days or weeks of subsequent pain. But now sufferers have hard science to turn to: In a new study, the Canadian research team used infrared and motion technology to track how 10 couples’ spines moved during sex in five different positions.
Since back pain is directly tied to spine movement, researchers were able to determine which sex positions were the most spine suitable, and therefore least likely to have pain overshadow the pleasure. And even though men and women are engaging very different muscles in the same position (for missionary, you’re lying down and he’s in plank, for example), the study showed that both sexes saw relief for similar pain in the same position.
If your back aches when you touch your toes or sit for a long time, for example, your pain-free pleasure is probably in doggy style, the study reports. These situations signal that your pain is worsened when your spine flexes, and men and women both used the least amount of spine flexion in doggy-style, explains lead author, Natalie Sidorkewicz, a Ph.D. candidate at Waterloo. She adds that women should hold themselves up with their hands, not their elbows, and that women saw similar relief from having sex while spooning.
If your pain is worse when you arch your back or lie on your stomach, go traditional: Missionary allows for the least amount of spine extension since you’re both staying relatively straight on top and on bottom, Sidorkewicz explains.
Most of the positons tested in the study were focused on tempering the guy’s pain, but Sidorkewicz says her team plans to next study positions where the woman is controlling the movement. Until then, check out these other ways to help relieve your back pain.