There are several reasons why children and teenagers have stronger bodies than adults, and it’s not just because they are younger. They tend to sit better for longer. Schools and libraries are fitted with chairs and desks that allow students to sit straight. Over time, this helps develop the proper posture for stronger bodies and bones.
Adults are not that lucky. From offices to homes, couches are fitted to help make sitting a more comfortable experience. As good as the intentions are, sofas contribute to back pains as they prevent proper sitting posture.
The more time you spend getting sucked into your couch, the more damage you could be doing to your health.
Your couch has two features which are not good for you. They are soft. And deep. How’s that a bad thing? Well, it is.
We all look forward to reclining on our soft sofas. They relieve us of a lot of pressure. So many people use their couch as first aid in stress relief. After a tiring day, I imagine you crashing into your sofa, and unwinding to the rhythm of its comfort.
The couch often goes further than offering a comfortable seating experience, it can serve as a bed as well! When you’re short of options of where to sleep, the ever-faithful couch is always welcoming to take you to dreamland. And, why not? It’s soft and comfortable.
Who wouldn’t love a good couch?
But would you believe me if I told you that your couch could be responsible for backaches and pains you’ve been experiencing recently?
To be honest, it’s not the couch that is the major culprit here. It’s you! But the couch encourages you to cause some problems for your back; so is equally guilty.
How do I mean?
Knee level with your hips
It is not the seat (in this case, couch) that is the real problem. It is how you seat on it.
You could spend a fortune acquiring a good chair to make you more comfortable, but if you don’t know how best position to sit, then you could develop some back problems sooner or later.
Physiotherapists have many instructions on how best to sit, for maximum comfort and a healthy body. Before I go into further detail, I tried distilling all the information into one easy-to-remember quip: your knee should be on the same level as your hips.
This will let you keep what physiotherapists refer to as a more neutral back alignment so that your back muscles won’t have to work as hard.
Isn’t that what couches do?
Couches offer comfort through lots of softness. When you sit on them, your body easily sinks into their welcoming arms. If you observe, you’ll notice it’s very unlikely that your knees would maintain the same level as your hips. On the couch, your hips go some inches lower.
In the immediate, it’s a comfortable and soothing experience for the body. In the long run, your body would wear out from the effects of the wrong posture.
Imagine yourself sitting on a wooden chair. Do you see that straight posture? That’s exactly what’s best for your body. That straight alignment between your hips and knees- that’s the goal!
So, you’ve been experiencing some backaches recently? Well, that’s no reason to dispose of your couch. Neither am I recommending replacing them with wooden benches! We can work out a deal that will be great for comfort and good for your body.
That would be a great deal, right?
So, you can keep your couch. After all, they’re also beautiful. But how do you sit on them?
Do not Slouch!
A slouch is a lazy, reluctant and carefree person. By slouching, I mean, sitting in a lazy, drooping posture. When you crash into your couch after a long hard day, you are slouching. It’s bad posture and is mainly responsible for pains you experience in your back. In simple terms, slouching puts undue stress on your back.
The couch makes slouching near impossible to resist. In fact, the couch encourages bad posture. If the idea is to sit straight, just as you would do on a wooden chair, there’s no way you wouldn’t look awkward trying to replicate that on a sofa. So you see the problem?
Couches are not designed to aid proper posture. They are marketed for their aesthetic appeal and comfort. And, they deliver in that regard. However, with your great couch, you could be swapping immediate comfort for long-term discomfort.
There are serious, long-term problems that slouching or poor posture can cause for your back and health in general. You can avoid all of that by simply learning to sit right.
The most common problem of improper posture is back pain. The tailbone won’t scream at you as you sink into your comfortable sofa. No, it won’t try stopping you. But sooner or later, the pressure you put it through would wear it out. You may have started noticing some pains around your lower back. This may be due to frequent slouching on the couch.
Sometimes, these pains can be so severe that it spreads to your neck and even deprives you of sound sleep. Sometimes you wake up and you’re more tired than you were before you went to bed. The problem may not be your bed, but your couch! You’ve been sitting wrongly for so long that your sleep is being stolen from you!
So If you notice such symptoms as severe headaches, neck pain, back pain and sleeping problems, you may have been sitting wrongly.
If at this point you’re wondering if I’m advocating doing away with your soft sofas, you’re wrong. You can still enjoy sitting on your couch, only if you learn to sit properly.
So how do we get the best of both worlds?
How to sit on the couch
1. Ensure your feet are always flat on the floor
Putting your feet firmly and on the floor is one major rule of sitting properly on the couch. The leg is a valuable support for your back when they are on the floor. If they’re not, undue pressure is put on your back, and this can cause severe pains when the pressure is persistent.
Sofas do not encourage you to do this. You are the one that must put your feet on the ground, and insist on the right thing. You’re also more likely to sit straight, in the proper posture when both of your feet are firmly flat on the floor.
This rule also applies to other seats, especially office chairs. If your work requires you to maintain a sitting position for long, please ensure your feet are always on the ground.
2. Always Resist the temptation of crashing on your couch.
Yeah, I get you’re tired. The couch looks tempting. The last thing on your mind is maintaining a good posture. So, you relax and unwind and literally crash into your sofa.
The only thing crashing is your back. When you want to sit, don’t crash into your couch. You are more likely to sit appropriately when you do not slouch. By crashing or just sinking into the sofa, you wouldn’t be able to maintain the correct posture needed for your back.
When you crash on your couch, this does not cause any immediate pain, rather it could seem therapeutic. But over time, this leads to the accumulation of stress on the lower back.
3. Armrests and pillows can help
Maintaining the correct posture on a sofa may seem quite tasking. I know something that can be of help: armrests and pillows.
Remember the golden rule is to ensure that your hip aligns with your knees. The couch may not make this very convenient. However, with pillows and armrests, you can make this easier.
You can cushion your lower back with pillows while using an armrest to maintain the correct posture. When sitting on the edge of the couch, which is the best spot to achieve a straight sitting position, a firm pillow can offer support if it is getting quite difficult.
4. Don’t sit for too long
Even if you follow the steps highlighted above, and sit in the correct posture, your body wouldn’t be better for it if you sit for too long on your couch.
You are not expected to sit for too long on any chair, regardless of how accurate the seating position is. But you know what makes couches worse? You’re less likely to exercise your body adequately, leading to several health challenges.
Researchers believe that the more you sit on your couch, the more likely you are to indulge in unhealthy habits. If you want to undertake productive tasks, the couch shouldn’t be considered.
However, if you’re left with no choice, try not to spend more than an hour in your seating position before you stand for a walk for a couple of minutes.
5. Don’t be sucked in. Sit on the edge!
Remember your feet should be flat on the ground when you sit on your couch. You can easily achieve this by practising seating on the edge of your seat.
When you do this, you may find your knees slightly higher than necessary. You can simply correct this by simply stretching your legs to relieve the pressure. This looks like a business-like approach and it may be quite uncomfortable at first because your back would yearn for the backrest.
But once you get used to it, you’d soon begin to notice your back is stronger and you are healthier for it. As your feet stand firmly on the ground, you will also put less pressure on your back. Sofas can suck you in. Don’t fall for the temptations, sit on the edge.
6. Cross your legs once in a while
There are tons of information on the body language implications of crossing one’s legs when seating. But what you may not know is that crossing your legs may be good for your posture, especially on a couch.
Let me immediately inform you that crossing your legs shouldn’t be maintained for too long, as any posture maintained for too long would be counterproductive. But when you find out that the couch is too soft to allow for the best possible posture, you can counterattack with strategic leg crossing.
Some of the benefits of crossing your legs while sitting include:
- Improvement of blood flow
- Exercises the joints
- Stretches the muscles
- Improves bowel movement
- Improves your posture
You should always remember that despite the obvious benefits of crossing your legs while sitting if you sit in that position for long periods, you can experience some pains as well.
Some couches are better than others
The problem with sofas is that they are marketed without your health in mind. And you’re likely to buy a couch for many other reasons other than your health. Not all couches are that bad, though. Some are certainly better than others.
Perhaps you get my point, and you think your couch is too soft, or you’re about getting one and want to be sure what the best specifications should be, I can be of help.
Your sofa should let your feet rest on the floor. If your couch is so comfortable that it sweeps your feet off the floor, then it may transfer a lot of stress to your back.
Your sofa should have some sturdiness and not just softness. This helps provide some support for your back by bearing part of your weight. When your chair is so soft that it cannot bear any of your weight and rather allows you to sink into it, your back is the ultimate loser.
Also, look out for armrests. Armrests help support the elbows and relieve the body of stress if you need to sit for long, either watching the television or knitting, the armrests can help relieve a lot of pressure from your spine.