After a hard day at work, it’s perfectly acceptable to spend your downtime – or should that be sitting-down time? – exhausted on the sofa.
But do you ever give a moment’s thought to your posture as you slouch in front of your favourite TV show? Or remember to keep your back straight as you reach for that second Kit Kat?
With research estimating that, once you factor in desk work, we spend a whopping 14 hours a day sitting down it’s high time we gave our backs some TLC.
Improving your sitting posture does take some work, but the good news is you don’t need to balance a stack of books on your head as you enjoy the latest instalment of Poldark.
Here are some tips for sofa success.
1. Don’t slump
If you sit slouched or slightly hunched over, you’re likely to be piling the pressure on your lower back as it has to cope with your upper body weight. You’ll need to strengthen your core and buttock muscles, so have a look at NHS Choices for some advice on exercises you can try out.
2. Make sure your lower back is supported
If there’s a big gap between your lower back and the chair you’re sitting on, you may need to make some adjustments (and this is something you should also keep an eye on if your job is a deskbound one). Try and make sure your knees are level with your hips by adjusting your seat, or find yourself a foot rest.
3. Plant your feet flat on the floor
It’s highly tempting to cross your legs nonchalantly like that posh couple on Gogglebox when you’re watching TV - particularly if you have a glass of G&T in your hand. But this can put pressure on your lower back over time, so try and keep your feet on the floor and resist the urge to cross them or tuck them under you.
4. Avoid ‘text neck’
Many of us go from spending our 9 to 5 bent over a computer keyboard to whiling away the evening hunched over a phone or tablet. In fact, smartphone users now spend an average of two to four hours a day with their heads lowered. This can lead to that all-too-common feeling of being stiff and sore around your upper back, shoulder blades and neck. Save yourself a fortune on pricey massages and try lengthening your neck as you tuck in your chin as an exercise. Alternatively, why not go old-school and give someone a call instead of texting them?
5. Don’t get stuck in a rut
When there’s a particularly gripping TV show on, it can be easy to develop the kind of rigor mortis seen in a Silent Witness corpse. But try and move around a bit to boost blood circulation. Shift position every half hour or so, or get up and walk around - even if it’s just to the kettle and back.
6. Get the family involved
Working on your posture takes time and effort – it feels a lot comfier lounging under your slanket than sitting up straight. Why not get your partner, kids or friends on board for the posture crusade? When one of you looks at risk of slumping like a soggy-bottomed cake on Bake Off, give each other a gentle nudge. Your back will thank you for it.