Can A Sofa Cause Back Pain?
The short answer is yes, it possibly could be and by the end of this article you will have a much better idea if your sofa could be the main suspect. Unfortunately the majority of sofa’s aren’t designed with ergonomics in mind in the same way that seating is for offices.
The main things you need to check are:
How Long Do You Sit For In A Day?
Have you reflected/noticed your posture when sitting, driving, standing, walking and generally going about your day? Movement and changing your posture are important. We are not expecting you to hold yourself in the ‘perfect posture’ all of the time, that is unrealistic. However the way you do these things all plays a part in the health of your spine and your chances of developing some form of back pain. Westerners spend 55-70 % of each day just sitting, that’s at least 12 hours every day! The way that you sit is crucial. Although these are all important areas of life we shall focus purely on your question of ‘Can a sofa cause back pain?’
Sitting, slouching on the sofa may feel comfortable at the time. You may have slouched for many years, but there could well be changes that are going on unnoticed in your spine as a result (Find out more about the changes happening in the spine when you slouch).
An article in the Daily Mail in July 2015 highlighted that 1 in 5 people experience back pain as a direct response to sitting on their sofa. That is a lot of unnecessary back pain. You are not to blame, not all sofas are built to the right dimensions for you to be able to sit in them properly.
How ‘Ergonomic’ Is Your Sofa?
If you are getting twitchy right now thinking that this is going to eliminate all comfort when you are chillaxing don’t worry, you can still have a sofa that supports you and is comfortable to sit on… just bear with us for the moment.
What Should You Look For In A Sofa?
If your sofa is too low and you have a seat back that is angled slightly backward this can increase the angle at your hips and thus still give a supportive sitting posture. It is still important that you can either sit with your feet on the floor or with a foot stool as described below.
- You should be able to sit into the back of your sofa and place your feet on the ground. Your sofa should not be so deep that the seat is digging into the back of your knees. Can you sit against the back of your sofa with your feet comfortably on the ground? If not a foot stool could be helpful, just make sure it is at a height that ensures your knees are slightly lower than your hips.
- Your sofa/couch should be supportive whilst still having a softness to it. It doesn’t need to be as solid as an office chair. What you want to avoid is disappearing into it because the foam is too soft and marshmallow like. This will not be supporting your body and may be contributing to discomfort. How soft is your couch?
What To Do If Your Sofa Is Causing You Back Pain?
If It’s Too Low
Can you raise it up e.g. could you buy longer castors so that it is a bit higher?
Can you place a wooden board under the seat cushions? If your sofa is too soft too this may help for both situations.
If Your Sofa Is Too Low And/Or Soft
Rather than having to go out a buy a brand new sofa you may just be able to replace the foam. You may have a foam manufacturer near you so ask around on local Facebook groups or search the Internet. A company we know well is Imagineers who offer this service (they cut the foam for the Sittingwell sofa back support cushion). They’re based in High Wycombe. If you know what you want they can send your replacement anywhere in the UK.
If you find an excellent foam manufacturer near to you please let us know and we will add them to the list.
If Your Sofa is Too Deep
This is where we may be able to help. We have put together our top 3 back supports for the sofa to help counteract these problems.
In short there may also be ways that you can make your situation a whole lot better even if your sofa is causing you back pain right now. If more than one of you live in the same house your heights may vary from 2ft-7ft. In those situations there won’t be a sofa that will suit everyone so trying to find a best fit for both or making adaptations for one person may be enough to reduce the strain on your back and allow you all to sit comfortably.
When you are sitting on your sofa your hips should be positioned above your knees or at least level. Is your sofa seat high enough?