How to have a good posture when sitting on a sofa

This page is one of a series on understanding and improving your posture.

One of the problems when sitting on a sofa is that it's really easy to sit in a poor posture. If you sit in a poor posture for any length of time, your joints become under strain and start to ache.

Tips to sit in a good posture on a sofa

When sitting on a sofa or easy chair there are a number of things to consider to help you sit in a good posture.

Often sofas are too deep and/or too low, with inadequate back support encouraging a slouched posture. Even if there is no discomfort at first, sitting like this for a while tires or strains the muscles and joints and can make it harder to do things while seated. Placing a cushion or pillow behind your back will help reduce the depth of a seat.

If the sofa is too low, a reasonably cheap option is to try raising the seat height with another cushion or by placing high-density foam under the sofa cushion. You could also put blocks under the base of the sofa so that your knees are raised to the same height as your hips when you are sitting.

If there is pressure or numbness on the backs of your knees, there are two things you can try. First, try putting a large cushion or pillow behind your back to reduce the depth of a seat. Second, for a seat that is too high, try putting a cushion or block under your feet to bring your knees up.

If the arm rests are too low or there aren't any, this can also encourage you to slump. Try placing pillows or cushions under your arms. This is also good if you have any pain in your neck or arm as it takes the weight of the arm off the neck.

Tips to read in a good posture on a sofa

To avoid bending and straining your neck when reading, try propping your book, tablet or e-reader on a cushion. This will help keep your head and book upright. Alternatively, try using a book stand.

Tips to relax in a good posture on a sofa

When putting your feet up on a stool or on the sofa, follow these posture pointers:

  • Put a small cushion behind your lower back to keep your 'spine in line' and maintain or restore the natural curve in your low back
  • Put cushions under your knees to help support them in a slightly flexed position. This can take the strain of tight leg muscles off your back
  • Don't sit for too long with your feet up, especially on the sofa, as it is a naturally flexed position that will put strain on your back and neck
  • Make sure you change your position regularly. For example, when watching television, when the adverts come on, sit up away from the back rest and try practising sitting in a good posture. With regular practice you will find that you can hold this posture until the next ad break

For a visual representation of the information covered in the text, please view the video at the top of the page.

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