How do we stand? Variations during repeated standing phases of asymptomatic subjects and low back pain patients

J Biomech. 2018 Mar 21:70:67-76. doi: 10.1016/j.jbiomech.2017.06.016. Epub 2017 Jun 21.


An irreproducible standing posture can lead to mis-interpretation of radiological measurements, wrong diagnoses and possibly unnecessary treatment. This study aimed to evaluate the differences in lumbar lordosis and sacrum orientation in six repetitive upright standing postures of 353 asymptomatic subjects (including 332 non-athletes and 21 athletes - soccer players) and 83 low back pain (LBP) patients using a non-invasive back-shape measurement device. In the standing position, all investigated cohorts displayed a large inter-subject variability in sacrum orientation (∼40°) and lumbar lordosis (∼53°). In the asymptomatic cohort (non-athletes), 51% of the subjects showed variations in lumbar lordosis of 10-20% in six repeated standing phases and 29% showed variations of even more than 20%. In the sacrum orientation, 53% of all asymptomatic subjects revealed variations of >20% and 31% of even more than 30%. It can be concluded that standing is highly individual and poorly reproducible. The reproducibility was independent of age, gender, body height and weight. LBP patients and athletes showed a similar variability as the asymptomatic cohort. The number of standing phases performed showed no positive effect on the reproducibility. Therefore, the variability in standing is not predictable but random, and thus does not reflect an individual specific behavioral pattern which can be reduced, for example, by repeated standing phases.

Keywords: Age; Gender; Human posture; Lumbar lordosis; MiSpEx; Sacrum orientation; Standing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Athletes
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lordosis / physiopathology
  • Low Back Pain / physiopathology*
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / physiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sacrum / physiology
  • Standing Position*
  • Young Adult