As a nation, we all spend rather a lot of time sitting in our armchairs. A study showed that adults in Britain spend an average of four sedentary hours watching TV each day – so that’s not even including the time we spend reading, scrolling through our phones and all manner of other things we do to relax. So it’s terribly important that we pay heed to our armchair posture, otherwise, we could be at risk of all manner of ailments.
Why is posture when sitting important?
We’re always being told how to sit correctly at a desk, of course, but we also need to think about how we sit in our down time, when there is far more of a tendency to slouch or hunch over. Sitting with proper alignment supports your muscles, tendons and ligaments, helps to keep your nerves healthy and supports blood flow.
Bad chair posture increases the tension in muscles, which can ultimately cause back pain. And anyone who has had a bad back knows just how downright miserable that can be. So every time you relax, be mindful of the best way to sit on a sofa to avoid back pain – once you practice good posture for a few weeks, it will become second nature.
Our top tips for good armchair posture
1. Don’t hunch over
Hunching over when you sit can be down to a tight chest and a weak upper back and could cause shoulder and upper back stiffness. Sit with your back up straight against the back of the sofa and, if you’re looking at a book, phone or iPad screen, either angle your eyes down rather than your entire head, or prop it up on a cushion or a padded tray (ask your granny).
2. Make good use of cushions
If your armchair has a deep seat, prop cushions up behind you so that you are not slumped into the seat and ensure that your lower back is supported. If your knees are above your hips ( this is more likely to apply to the statuesque), sit on a cushion to address this issue as this will alleviate any pressure on your lower back.
3. Keep your feet on the ground
And we don’t mean in the starry-eyed way, we mean literally. Both of your feet should comfortably touch the ground from your armchair. Support through your feet helps to stabilise your lower back, so dangling them in mid air is a big no-no. It’s also bad for circulation and can cause restless legs and numbness. If you are on the shorter side, use a footstool, but be mindful to keep your knees at least level with your hips. This is the ergonomically right way to sit, as it keeps the pelvis balanced.
4. Mind those elbows
Your elbows should be by the side of your body so your arm forms an L-shape at the elbow joint – this is also ergonomically correct (obviously you aren’t at work now though and will need to regularly reach for the popcorn and the TV remote control).
5. Ease yourself up
And this doesn’t only apply to older people. If you have weak knees (and we don’t mean from watching a George Clooney movie) or are particularly tall, give some thought to how you get up from your armchair. Bring yourself to the front of the chair and push yourself up with the arms.
6. Move around
The human body isn’t designed to stay in one position for long periods of time, so make sure you get up and move around at least every 30 minutes. Why not do a few stretches and the odd sun salutation in between episodes of your favourite box set?