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I’m one of those people who have issues with furniture comfort.
Growing up, I had a favourite chair and sofa I loved sitting in simply because they were the most comfortable and didn’t leave my body sore or out of place.

I developed a habit of sitting or should I say sampling all the chairs and sofas in the house till I found just the right one and I still do.
A lot of people are not so keen on the right postures when sitting, standing, walking, reading, writing, typing, texting etc. Every activity, in general, has its specific posture.

It would surprise you to know that bad postures do exist and can be detrimental to your musculoskeletal health, leaving you with aches and pains that occur when performing these activities or afterward; take the texting neck syndrome for example.

We pay way more attention to the look, colour, and stylishness of our sofas before considering how we would feel when we actually sit in them and later on attributing the symptoms of pain or aches in our bodies to stress when really, it’s the furniture or simply just bad posture when in that furniture.

What is posture?

Posture simply means the configuration of a body; how a body is set up/ stacked up/ aligned or built.


Photo: 123rf.com

Basics of a good posture

Sitting is a body position in which the weight of the body is transferred to the pelvis (a mass of bone that connects your upper body to your lower body) and their surrounding soft tissue i.e., the buttocks.

There is no single ideal sitting position as there are a variety of chairs and other furniture that allow different users to each sit in a variety of postures.

But, there is an ideal posture which is the best posture that would or will impose the least potential stress and provide postural comfort.


Photo: cartoonchurch.com

Photo: mypositiveparenting.org

How to sit correctly (A mini checklist)

  • Sit up with your back straight and shoulders back.
  • Slowly move your buttocks back into the chair so that it touches the back support of the sofa or chair. This will allow all three curves of your spine to be correctly accentuated as you sit.
  • Distribute your body weight on both hips and not just one.
  • Your knees should be at 90 degrees, that is at the same level as your hips or just a little lower. Also, avoid crossing your legs at the knee.
  • Avoid sitting in the same position for more than 30 minutes at a stretch. Feel free to get up and stretch or take a walk to the door and back.

What to look out for in a good sofa?

A good sofa should:

  • be firm, not hard to sit in like a wooden bench. With firm cushioning, the sofa will be able to support your weight over a range of compression say over time or periodically.
  • have a good foam density of about 2.4. Foam density is a measure that indicates the weight the foam can support per cubic foot.
  • hold you in an upright position, vertically aligning your ears over your shoulders and shoulders over your hips.
  • allow your feet to rest on the floor whilst your back is against the back support (in the absence of a foot-rest).

When sitting on a sofa

  • You want to avoid the hermit crab pose; curled or tucked in with a curved shaped spine.
  • If the cushions are too deep to allow your buttocks reach the back support, you can fill in that space with soft pillows. This will help shorten the gap and help lengthen the spine when you sit with your buttocks touching the back support.
  • In the absence of a neck rest, you can use pillows just above your shoulder level to prevent your neck from being titled overly backward or forwards as this will put a strain in your neck.
  • Recline! This is another great way to enjoy couch time, especially when watching your soaps. You can recline on your back or on your side with pillows to support your spine in whatever position. Support should be at your neck/head, shoulders, back and waist or hips.

Here are some positions you can adopt on your sofa that is easy on your body and spine.

Supported prone position a.k.a sphinx pose

Lie on your belly with your elbows under your shoulder and press your hand into the couch for more support. This position helps your stretch out your hip, chest, and abdomen it help to take the pressure off your buttocks too as you relax and enjoy time on the sofa.

Sphinx Pose
Photo:123rf.com

Supported staff pose

Sit with your buttocks as close to the edge of the couch as possible. You can place a pillow between your back and the edge of a couch as you sit up tall and straight leaning into the pillow. This posture will help your spine maintain and erect position and maintain its curves.

Lateral stretch or side recline position

Lie on your side and place pillows under your head, back and waist, resting the top knee on the bottom knee. The will help stabilize your hips and take pressure off your lower back.

Lateral Stretch Position
Photo:123rf.com

The human body is designed to move and not remain in a single position. It is important to be aware of your posture at all times, making changes where necessary. This consciousness will prevent aches and pains where you least expect it.

Sources

  • Kate Murphy (2015). The ergonomic sofa: Sitting as comfortable as running shoes. The New York Times.
  • Are you sitting properly? The oxford physiotherapy service limited.
  • Posture tips for human chairs and sofa bears. 2017. www.stretchphysio.co.uk
  • What is the correct way to sit? By physioworks.com.au. 2016
  • Is your sofa hurting you? The physiotherapy partners. 2016. www.thephysiotherapypartners.co.uk
  • What does it mean to choose and ergonomic sofa? By www.thebackstore.com