04 May Poor TV watching posture could be to blame for back pain
Is there anything better than cosying up on the sofa with a good film and some popcorn? We think not! But, did you know that the way you sit on the sofa could actually be causing you pain? It turns out that your grandma was right all along – keeping a straight back is super important, even when you’re chilling out in front of the TV.
What is good posture?
Good posture is when the ears are positioned directly above the shoulders with the chest open and shoulders back. This is where the spine is neutral and stress on the neck is minimised because the weight of the head is balanced on the cervical spine.
If the head and neck are slanting forwards and are much further forwards than the shoulders, or the pelvis is pushed forwards and the spine is hunched, this causes strain on the muscles as they work overtime trying to keep the spine aligned.
So, if you’re texting your friends or eating your well-earned TGI takeout while you’re sat on the sofa, the chances are that you aren’t maintaining good posture.
What are the benefits?
There are a number of benefits to maintaining good posture, such as:
- Efficient muscle function
- Reduces aches and pains
- Reduces stress on ligaments
- Prevents compression of the lungs
- Adds height
- Prevents fatigue
- Gives the appearance of being younger and more confident
Are you sitting comfortably?
Slumping on the sofa after a long hard day is something that we’re all guilty of doing. Sinking into those soft cushions is a welcome relief from being on our feet all day. However, it actually isn’t a relief at all. By slumping on the sofa, we are putting additional stress on our back and hips which can cause even more problems in the long run.
This might not be so bad if you have been moving pretty much all day (not just at your gym session!) and your core is strong enough to support your body. But if you’re a driver, have an office job or play lots of online games, then slumping on the sofa is not going to do you any favours. This is because when we spend hours sitting at our desks or in the car with little movement, our bodies start to atrophy in response. So, as well as investing in a good quality sofa and sitting properly on it, it’s also super important to make sure that your workstation is as comfortable as possible to prevent unnecessary stress and strain on your back.
How to sit properly
There are a few different ways that you can maintain good posture while you sit on the sofa.
Stack-sitting is when you sit on the edge of the couch, shoulder blades pulled together and feet on the floor. This is a great option for softer sofas that don’t have much in the way of support. Although it might feel a bit odd to perch on the edge of the sofa, the relief that comes from stretching the spine and holding it correctly outweighs the discomfort of slouching into the cushions and rounding your back.
This involves pushing your lower back into the backrest while keeping your knees bent and feet on the ground. If the seat is too deep, place a few cushions behind your lower back and check to make sure that your spine is correctly aligned. If you find that your head is slanting forwards, stack some more cushions up behind you to keep your spine as straight as possible.
For those times when you simply must kick back and relax, a safe option for the spine is to recline. Pile up some cushions against the armrest to provide a supportive slope to rest on, then stretch out your legs and relax. Make sure that your neck is active and elongated and that there is no unnecessary stress or strain on the spine at any point.
One final option that also takes up a lot of the sofa is the sphinx pose. Lie on your front, with your elbows underneath your shoulders. Push your hands into the couch, elongate the neck, and pull the shoulders away from the ears. This helps to open the chest, release the hips and prevent rounding of the shoulders.
So, the next time you chill out in front of the TV, try one of these poses to make sure that you maintain great posture and prevent against aches and pains.