Is your sofa causing your back pain?
Most of us have our go to spot on a sofa at home, where we can curl up under a blanket and read, or relax and watch the game. Myself included. But, have you ever noticed that after sitting on the sofa for a few hours your back feels stiff or achy? You're not alone. Over the course of the COVID-19 Pandemic, we have ALL being doing more sitting, binge watching our favourite Netflix series, which means more couch time than before! A survey done in the UK in 2015 suggested that 1/5 attributed back pain to sitting on their sofa. That's 20% of people experiencing completely avoidable low back pain!
While that over stuffed, super cushy sofa (with or without recliner) might feel comfy, they rarely offer much in terms of support for the back. And, not only that, but the way the couch is designed it often puts your low back into a position of flexion, and out of a neutral posture. This is significant, because most low back injuries occur from repetitive and/or sustained lumbar spine flexion. So, as you can imagine, sitting for hours on end reading or watching TV with your back flexed has the potential to lead to low back pain.
As you can see from the image above, the spine is flexing forward, which over time can contribute to ongoing low back pain.
So, what can you do to fix this?
Well, the first option is to avoid the sofa altogether and opt for a more supportive upright chair like those old wooden kitchen chairs (see below).
The second option, is to ensure when sitting on your sofa you sit upright, with your knees just below hip height, and to sit slightly forward on the sofa. This helps to keep your spine neutral and from flexing too far forward.
The last option is to sit with either a small pillow or lumbar support in the small of your back. This also keeps your spine straighter, which should help to minimize the risk of developing back pain from your sofa.
As you can see from this image above, the small pillow in the small of the back helps maintain the natural curves of the spine, reducing the risk of back pain.
While it may feel at first a bit awkward to sit with a cushion behind your back, your back will soon thank you!
Whatever option you choose, choose 1! Choose 1 so that you're not 1 of the 20% suffering from sofa related back pain!
Dr. Elaine Screaton (DC, BSc) is a NW Calgary Chiropractor, currently practicing at Synergea Family Health Centre.