When your back hurts, sex can be more pain than pleasure. But there might be a way to stay in the game: New research from the University of Waterloo discovered that certain sex positions can be better for those with bad backs.
The study found that men with flexion-intolerant back pain—which is felt when bending forward at the waist, and the most common kind in younger guys—might be best served by a doggy-styleposition where the woman supports her weight on her elbows.
That position was the most “spine conserving,” meaning it allowed for the least range of motion. When she’s on her elbows, your spine can stay in a more neutral position with little forward flexion, says study author Stuart McGill, Ph.D. And that’s important, because moving your spine can cause the pain.
The second best spine-conserving position was simple missionary, where the man supported his weight on his hands and the woman stretched her legs out flat to the bed. If missionary makes you yawn, the study determined a variation of the doggy-style position that entails the woman supporting herself with her hands rather than her elbows can be used as another back-saving technique.
However, it wasn’t as protective as the classic version of doggy-style because the angle of penetration slightly changes, which requires more spinal movement.
Contrary to previous orthopedic thinking, the spooning position was actually worst for flexion-intolerant guys. That’s because it greatly stressed the spine, possibly because it’s harder to move the hips from that position with each thrust.
Related: Once Your Back Feels Better, Tackle One of These Intimidating Sex Positions
Just one word of caution, though—if you’re suffering from acute back pain, it’s probably best to let it settle down before you add sex to the mix. The study was focusing on episodic, chronic back pain, meaning pain that comes and goes, says McGill.