Open Access Research article

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

Yolandi Brink1*, Quinette Louw1, Karen Grimmer12 and Esmè Jordaan34

Author Affiliations

1 Division of Physiotherapy, Department of Interdisciplinary Health Sciences, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, PO Box 19063, Tygerberg 7505, South Africa

2 International Centre for Allied Health Evidence (iCAHE), University of South Australia, GPO Box 2471, Adelaide, SA 5000, Australia

3 Department of Biostatistics, Medical Research Council of South Africa, PO Box 19070, Tygerberg 7505, South Africa

4 Statistics and Population Studies Department, University of the Western Cape, Private Bag X17, Bellville 7535, South Africa

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BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2014, 15:212  doi:10.1186/1471-2474-15-212

Published: 20 June 2014



It is assumed that good postural alignment is associated with the less likelihood of musculoskeletal pain symptoms. Encouraging good sitting postures have not reported consequent musculoskeletal pain reduction in school-based populations, possibly due to a lack of clear understanding of good posture. Therefore this paper describes the variability of postural angles in a cohort of asymptomatic high-school students whilst working on desk-top computers in a school computer classroom and to report on the relationship between the postural angles and age, gender, height, weight and computer use.


The baseline data from a 12 month longitudinal study is reported. The study was conducted in South African school computer classrooms. 194 Grade 10 high-school students, from randomly selected high-schools, aged 15–17 years, enrolled in Computer Application Technology for the first time, asymptomatic during the preceding month, and from whom written informed consent were obtained, participated in the study. The 3D Posture Analysis Tool captured five postural angles (head flexion, neck flexion, cranio-cervical angle, trunk flexion and head lateral bend) while the students were working on desk-top computers. Height, weight and computer use were also measured. Individual and combinations of postural angles were analysed.


944 Students were screened for eligibility of which the data of 194 students are reported. Trunk flexion was the most variable angle. Increased neck flexion and the combination of increased head flexion, neck flexion and trunk flexion were significantly associated with increased weight and BMI (p = 0.0001).


High-school students sit with greater ranges of trunk flexion (leaning forward or reclining) when using the classroom computer. Increased weight is significantly associated with increased sagittal plane postural angles.

Posture; Adolescent; Body weight; Computers