Science In Brief

Chiropractic Literature Review


The Study: The spinal posture of computing adolescents in a real-life setting.

The Facts:

a. From the background section, referencing a 1992 article in the journal of Physical Therapy by Griegel-Morris et al, the authors state that good spinal alignment is, "when the centre of gravity of each spinal segment is vertically aligned with the segment below."

b. The authors note this is commonly accepted.

c. The authors indicate that it is assumed that good posture is linked to less musculoskeletal pain.

d. In this study the authors looked at the variability of the posture of students using desk top computers. This was a study on posture not a study linking it to pain as they have indicated it is already assumed that the two are associated.

e. They had 194 asymptomatic subjects who were 15-17 years of age.

f. They looked at head flexion, neck flexion, cranio-cervical angle, trunk flexion and head lateral bending.

g. They found that trunk flexion was the most variable of the angles studied.

h. There was no significant difference in posture and gender.

i. How much the subject used a computer either at school or in other venues did not appear to be associated with the angles found.

j. Heavier students were more likely to demonstrate increased neck flexion.

Take Home:

The trunk flexion of students using a desk top computer varies considerably depending on the individual. The heavier students tended to have greater neck flexion. There were no significant differences between boys and girls nor did the amount of time they used their computers significantly affect the findings.

Reviewer's Comments: I was surprised that the amount of time that students spent on their computers didn't seem to affect the findings. I am not surprised that body weight seemed to be an influence. But the thing that I found most interesting about this study is the matter of fact assumptions accepted by the authors. They noted that poor posture was associated with pain and that good posture is the alignment of spinal segments with gravity. So I come away from this article with two thoughts. First, chubby guys like me shouldn't spend so much time in front of a computer. (Too late for that one.) Second, that Yolandi Brink from the Division of Physiotherapy, Department of Interdisciplinary Health Sciences Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University in South Africa seems pretty certain that that we can determine what good spinal alignment looks like and that that bad alignment is associated with pain. Need I say more?

Reviewer: Roger Coleman DC

Editor’s Comments: So let’s get this straight. The PT’s at Stellenbach University in South Africa think that spinal alignment is important, but a huge percentage of our profession is neither convinced that there’s any such thing as normal spinal posture/alignment nor particularly interested in figuring out exactly what we need to do to fix it. Things that make you go hmmmm.

Editor: Mark R. Payne DC


Reference: Brink Y, Louw Q, Grimmer K, Jordann E. The spinal posture of computing adolescents in a real-life setting. BMC Musculoskelet Dirord 2014;15:212.


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