Written by: Paul J. Roubal, Ph.D., DPT, OCS
I bet that you didn’t expect to see this as a topic covered by your physical therapist! But, why
not? Part of my job as a therapist is to provide patients with an improved quality of life and
help them get back to activities that they enjoy and consider important – for some, that
involves the physical ability to be intimate with their partner.
PS. You’re not alone! Did you know that up to 84% of men and 73% of women report a
significant decrease in the frequency of coupled sex when they’re suffering from back
pain? Your sex life doesn’t have to suffer due to painful joints or decreased flexibility!
So, I didn’t just pull this topic out of thin air. In the mid-70’s I was asked by a physician group
to do a seminar for patients with low back pain that wanted to become intimate again with
That was somewhat of a surprise, as well as a challenge!
I needed to breakdown the common problems associated with low back pain and look at
specific positional protocols that would perform best in each situation.
Reaching back into the archives -here’s what I presented. Hopefully, you too can benefit from
Let’s first identify your source of low back pain:
1. Mechanical low back pain/strain
2. Degenerative joint and/ or disc pain
3. Low back pain with radiculopathy (radiating pain down one or both legs)
After an appropriate evaluation, you need to decide if you do better in a:
1. Flexed posture
2. Neutral posture
3. Extension posture.
Generally, mechanical low back pain and degenerative changes in the back do better in
neutral or flexed postures; and, patients with acute discogenic problems, and radiculopathy,
generally do better in neutral to extension positions. This should help to guide you in finding
a comfortable position to remain intimate with your partner.
If you feel this topic is important to you, here is a link to further information about how
various positions can be useful when dealing with pain and mobility limitations: CLICK HERE
If you have questions or limitations that are not addressed above, please consult your
physician and/or physical therapist.