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How to Sit on a Sofa to Prevent Back Pain

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Ed Hawes
how to prevent sofa back pain

Did you know that on average a Brit will spend around 44 days just sitting on the sofa? That’s right, a whopping 1,060 hours every year is spent on the sofa. That’s a lot of time to be sitting. And while a sofa may be a very comfortable piece of furniture, the way you sit on it could be causing you some health issues, such as back pain.

So, before you spend the next 8 hours binging your favourite show on the sofa, read our guide on how to sit on a sofa to prevent back pain and improve your posture.

Is Sitting on a Sofa Bad for your Back?

Sitting comfortably on the sofa seems like such a basic activity it’s difficult to comprehend that we could be doing it completely wrong. While sitting for a short while won’t have any long term effects, sitting for hours at a time in a poor, slumped position can add a lot of pressure to your back and overstretch the spinal ligaments, causing you aches and pains.

Unfortunately, the nation’s favourite sitting positions are doing our backs no good, here’s why:

Legs up on the sofa with upper body twisted

In this position, the spine is twisted so sitting for a long period of time can cause discomfort in your back or hips. It could also potentially put strain on the facet joints of the spine too.

Slouching with no lower back support and feet up on a footstool

This position creates a curve to the spine, causing the fluid to move to the posterior part of the intervertebral discs, putting pressure on them. The neck and shoulder muscles also have to work harder than normal to keep your head upright. Eventually, this posture could lead to the weakening of the back and abdominal muscles. Think twice, before resting your legs on a footstool or ottoman

Slouching with no lower back support and feet on the floor

Similar to the position above, the curve of the back here again puts pressure on the spine and makes it hard for the neck and shoulders to support the head. Also, with your feet on the floor while slouched, the thighs won’t be supported which will put additional strain on your back.

How Should You Sit on a Sofa to Prevent Back Pain?

How to sit on a sofa to avoid back pain

The ideal seating position for your posture is with your feet flat on the floor and your back fully supported by the sofa or some cushions. In this position, the body is in perfect alignment with your head in line with your shoulders and spine and your hips level to your knees. However, while this position is the best, it can still cause you back problems if you stay there for a long time. This is because your body is designed to move. It shouldn’t be sat in one position for hours on end. So, make sure you get up and walk around every now and then...even if it’s just to go to the fridge to get some snacks for a movie.

Firmer sofas also tend to be better for your posture than sofas that you sink into. Our Swyft sofas manage to strike the perfect balance between firmness and cushiness as they’re made with dual-layered foam and polyester fibre to provide a fuller, softer look and feel with high-quality outer fabrics such as velvet and linen so you don’t have to compromise.

Our Tip Tops for Better Posture

If you’ve come to the realisation that you often sit in one of the bad positions we’ve mentioned above and want to improve your posture, follow our top tips:

Add Cushions

As most sofas have a deep seat, it can be tricky sitting upright in a comfortable way - especially if you have shorter legs. Add two or three cushions behind you to support your upper back to prevent from slumping. Supporting your upper back rather than your lower will help to keep your pelvis and your spine upright and your head will also be better balanced which will then reduce pressure on the lower back. Experiment with how many cushions you use to find your most comfortable position.

Sofa Height

If you’re a tall person and your sofa is quite low, you may find that your knees end up higher than your hips which can put pressure on your lower back. To help beat this, sit on a cushion to raise your height overall, or have something the same height as the sofa in front of you to put your legs up on. You could also lie down as well, but this may get uncomfortable after a while and you could also end up falling asleep during a critical scene.

Add Even More Cushions when Using a Laptop

Cushions really are your best friend when it comes to improving your posture on the sofa, especially Swyft's cushion collection. If you read or use your laptop on the sofa often, you’ll probably find that your neck is strained as you look down to look at the screen or page. Of course, this can cause great discomfort after a while so we suggest either angling just your eyes downwards rather than your whole head, or adding a cushion underneath the laptop to raise the screen. You can also get a padded tray or a laptop tray to help.

Don’t Work from the Sofa

In general, we’d recommend avoiding working from the sofa at all. In this time where most people are currently still working from home, it can be tempting to stay on the sofa with your laptop all day. But, this is far worse and can do a lot more damage to your back and neck than sitting at a desk or a table.


If you do decide to spend the majority of the day lounging on the sofa, make sure you get up to move every once in a while and do some stretches too. Stretch your neck out and roll your shoulders back to elevate any strains. When sitting on the edge of the sofa, stretch one leg out with your toes pointing upward and keeping your other foot flat on the ground. Hold this for about 30-45 seconds and then switch legs. Move your ankles in clockwise circles. To help stretch out your back, sit up straight, raise your arms above your head, interlock your fingers and push away from yourself for about 20-30 seconds.

If, after spending a long time on your sofa, you’ve decided it’s too uncomfortable and time for a new one, take a look at our 5 tips on how to find the most comfortable sofa style.

Explore our range of modern, contemporary sofas including our Model 01, Model 02 and our sectional Model 03. Our range of Model 04 sofa beds is also available and ideal for smaller spaces.

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