Are you sitting comfortably? How to sit on your sofa correctly

When it comes to sitting on your sofa, or any sofa in fact, how do you go about it? Do you even think about it?

We thought not.

How you sit on your sofa is second nature to you. It is to us too. But believe it or not, there’s a right and wrong way to do it.

Sitting in certain positions can actually be more beneficial for your back, spine and overall posture, especially if you’re sat down for long periods.

The British Heart Foundation refers to these seated periods as ‘sedentary behaviour’, which is becoming increasingly common due to increased desk jobs, driving around in our vehicles and relaxing in front of computers and other technology. They say that working age adults spend around 9.5 hours being sedentary a day. And for 65 to 74-year-olds, the figure is more like 10+ hours a day. Sitting down for long periods of time, has also been linked to higher rates of diabetes, cardiovascular disease and other health issues.*

Meanwhile, according to chartered physiotherapist, Lyndsay Hirst, the way we sit can also potentially damage our back, shoulders and neck.

How most of us tend to sit

and probably shouldn't...

Sitting with our legs up to the side of you or with our upper body twisted to face the TV

Why you shouldn’t do it: It twists the spine. And if you sit like this for long enough, it can make your back and hips hurt. If you already have issues with your spine or pelvis, this position can put more strain on your spine.

Slouching with no lower back support and your feet propped up 

Why you shouldn’t do it: Slouching causes a back curve that puts pressure on the spine and makes it more difficult for your neck and shoulders to support your head. Your thighs are also unsupported, which can put additional strain on your back.

How we should sit instead

With our feet flat on the floor and back fully supported by the sofa or cushions

When you sit like this, your body isn’t twisting or being strained in any way. Your head, shoulders and spine are all aligned and your hips aren’t being put under any additional pressure either. All of your weight is evenly distributed.  

Quick quiz: What sort of sofa sitter are you?

Has the insight above got you thinking about how you naturally sit on your sofa after a hard day’s work? 

Which of the sofa seating positions best describes you?

  1. The crosser – your arms and/or legs are crossed.  
  2. The tucker-upper – your legs are neatly tucked up beside you, to the left or the right.
  3. The dangler – your legs dangle down or over one of the arms.
  4. The recliner – you’re fully lying down; all you need is your pillow.
  5. The switcher – you flit between all of the positions, depending on how comfy you feel.

How to be kinder to your sofa 

So we’ve covered how the way you sit can impact your body, but what about sofa? Do our seating habits take their toll on our furniture, especially if you’ve had it for a while and use it repeatedly, i.e. your sofa?

In short, yes. But there are certain things you can do to help preserve your sofa. For instance, you can:

  1. Avoid sitting in exactly the same spot – over time, this will lead to indentations forming on your seat cushions, as well as the arms, if you happen to lean on one of them a lot. If your sofa is foam-filled, this is something you should be especially aware of because it tends to compress down much easier than other materials, such as (insert 1 to 2 examples of other sofa materials here).
  2. Flip your cushions – just like you do with your mattress. Turn your cushions over on a regular basis so they stay evenly-shaped and you aren’t just wearing one side of them down.
  3. Cover your sofa with blankets and throws – not only will it make it extra snuggly, it help protects your sofa from everyday wear and tear, such as food and drink stains, pet hair and scuffs and knocks. 
  4. Maintain your leather – if you’ve got a leather sofa, you probably love the fact it’s not a magnet for pet hair and you can easily wipe any stains away. But because it’s leather, it will still need a little TLC. Leather protection creams and cleaners are designed to keep leather in optimum condition and remove any stubborn marks and scratches.
  5. Shield your fabric sofa – as we all know, fabric sofas are more susceptible to getting stained and marked than leather sofas. However, you can reduce the likelihood of this, thanks to sofa guard technology that acts as a barrier against everyday spills, such as coffee and red wine, making them easier to clean.

Next time you sit down on your sofa, spare a thought for your back, neck and shoulders, as well as your sofa itself. Could you be kinder to your body by slightly shifting your posture, or your sofa, by protecting it against potential damage?

If you’re more of a recliner than a dangler, why not invest in a recliner sofa? For more on this popular sofa choice, have a read of this article, ‘Recliner pros and cons.’

Published: 20th December 2021