How to Sit in Front of the Television
You’ve had a long day, its cold and wet outside and you now have two choices:-
- Go exercise and blow away all the physical and mental cobwebs
- Get your thickiest and fleeciest clothes on and relax infront of the telly
If you choose option 1, brilliant! The benefits are endless from improving mental wellbeing, strengthening joints and muscles to improving general cardiovascular health.
If you choose option 2, that’s OK, we are all human and we all need a break to recharge the batteries. My aim is to help you to do this in the safest, healthiest way to ensure optimal spinal health by looking at the following:-
Ideally a firmer, higher chair is better. A lot of sofa’s are very soft so when we sit on a sofa we often sit in a dip, which allows our hips to be lower than our knees. Our bodies are not made to sit down for long periods of time. The curvature in our spine is to aid movement. Therefore when we sit down, the change in angulation naturally puts more pressure through our low back and pelvis. If you cant find a high, firm chair, try sitting on a cushion to ensure your hips are higher than your knees.
Our bodies are constantly adapting, this can have positive and negative effects. Muscle creep is the capability of our muscles altering their shape in relation to the stress we put on them. The best analogy is the elastic band, stretch an elastic band momentarily and it will spring back, hold the elastic band for a long period of time it will lose its elasticity and consequently lose its shape. In a clinical setting this presents as muscle wasting, muscle imbalances and conditions stemming from postural changes. Sitting down increases spinal load and promotes muscle imbalances. To avoid the effects of muscle creep, try and move every 30 minutes.
We are all creatures of habit, and as a result many of us will favour a certain positions while relaxing in the evening. If you’re in front of the telly, make sure you’re square on, its very common to rotate your body allowing muscles to contract and shorten. Work down and square yourself so you are parallel to telly. Keep arms relaxed and by your side at a comfortable 90°, and try not to reduce this angle.
Try and limit your time on devices. The term “text neck” is becoming a common phrase in the healthcare world. The use of ipads, laptops and phones for long periods can cause muscle strain, inflammation of the ligaments, joint restriction and nerve irritation. If you imagine the average head weighs between 4.5 to 5.5 kgs when we are sat in a neutral position, just moving our head forward slightly can drastically increase the pressure we are putting on our necks. It is said for every inch this pressure will double. Some studies even suggest our posture while using electronic devices can equate to our head weighing a whopping 22 kg.