The Importance of Research

by falenas1081 min read4th Apr 201110 comments


Personal Blog

This is just a quick example of why it's always good to check the source material.


Cracked ran an article today about several things people are doing wrong, and the number one thing they listed was sitting.  According to a an experiment they cite, one researcher tested disk movement for people slouching, sitting up straight, and leaning back at a 135˚ angle.  They found that leaning back does the least damage to the spine.

Interested, I clicked on their link which sent me to this article from MSNBC, which among other things, says:

When strain is placed on the spine, the spinal disks start to move and misalign. At a 90-degree sitting position, this movement was most prominent.

With this, I was considered making a lifestyle change to slouching when using the computer, as leaning back isn't usually an option for serious work.  But, I still wanted to read more about the experiment.

Unfortunately, they didn't have the link to the actual paper.  A bit of googling led me to an article that actually had the experiment's methodology, which says that slouching was actually the worst position! 

It maintained that leaning back is best, but according to the results the 90˚ angle isn't that bad, especially since most of the other articles I found were implying that the advice to sit up straight is wrong.  Considering that people are usually slouching when the advice is given, sitting up is still an improvement.  This is especially true at places like dinner tables, where leaning back as suggested isn't really an option.


Moral of the story: Do research before changing personal habits, regardless of where the information comes from.


Note: Afterwards, I did a bit more googling to see which other news sources carried this story incorrectly.  The most prominent misinformation came from a Fox News article, who carried the following headline:

Study: Slouching Better for Back Than Sitting Up Straight

Personal Blog