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A Physio’s Guide To Slouching On The Sofa

christmas socks

Despite 9 months of barely getting out of our pyjamas for Zoom meetings, a lot of us are counting on the Christmas break to do more of the same thing… absolutely nothing. And that is okay.

Kendall Scales, Lead Physiotherapist at Ten Health & Fitness offers up some of her really helpful tips for active slobbing, ensuring you don’t get too crooked over Christmas.

Kendall reveals that the majority of neck and back pain comes from maintaining prolonged positions, so the best advice she advises is to change up your position often. This will stop pressure building in the joints and the muscles from tensing up.

Keep on reading her helpful tips that I’m sure we could all make good use of over the holiday season.

  • Chest to the screen

Make sure your chest is facing the screen. By having your nose in line with your sternum, you avoid having your head turned or tilted one way for a prolonged period of time.

This is the same for the lower back as well – if you can make sure your belly button is in line with your sternum, you’re not twisting your lower back either.

You may have to move the sofa to do that – but that counts as exercise. Win-win.

  • Keep the spine stacked

A common example of poor slouching posture is lying on your side with your neck propped up on cushions against the arm of the couch, so your head ends up being at an angle to your spine.

Instead, scoot yourself down a bit further along the sofa so the cushions are on the seat of the couch. This means your head is pretty much horizontal and your cervical spine (neck) lines up straight with the thoracic spine (back).

This requires you to take up a little bit more of the couch, but it is justifiable in the name of self-care, and you’ve earned it.

  • Back supported and legs elevated

Another common posture failure is sitting on the couch with your bottom right on the edge, so you’re slumped down into it.

This is a killer for the lower back if you sit for any period of time. To avoid this, sit your bottom closer towards the back of the couch (if that’s too upright and uncomfortable for you, allow your bum to slightly slide forward, but place a cushion under your lower back so it’s supported).

If you keep your feet on the ground, you might find your hip flexors will pull on the front of your spine and encourage your lower back to arch. To avoid this, bring your feet up onto a footstool or the coffee table.

Now if you’re feeling a bit guilty about all the time you’re spending sprawled out in front of the TV but have minimal motivation to go out for some exercise, below are 5 easy exercises you can do from the sofa.

  • The ‘Posh Spice’

Lying on your side, lift your top leg up as high as it will go without your hips tilting back (add a pointed toe, like Posh would) then slowly lower it. It won’t take long to feel your bum start to burn. Then change sides, to work the other leg and give your neck some relief.

  • The ’Quality Street Crunches’

If you’re lazing back on the couch and the box is on the coffee table, engage your core muscles to sit up and forward to grab ONE (yep, just the one) chocolate. Do this a few times to (a) really work the abdominals and (b) get yourself a decent pile of chocolates on your lap.

If you’re lying on the couch, better still. Have the box at your feet and complete the same activity. Either way, move slowly and smoothly – no jerking – this is about muscles not momentum.

  • The ‘Supine Scissors’

This too can be done either lying down or sitting back up against the back of your sofa. Engage your lower abdominals as you lift your legs up off the couch, lengthen them out as you then begin to crisscross them over themselves.

Try to complete an ad’s worth before resting. Advanced loafercisers, go for the whole ad break.

  • The ‘Wine bottle wings’

The best thing about this one – you get to drink the wine after (or before if you’re not quite ready for the full weight – no judgement here).

Time to work those arms with something a little heavier than the remote. Grab a bottle in each hand. If you only have the one, that’s terrible planning, but just do one side at a time. Starting with your arms by your sides, take your arms out to the side and up (like a snow angel).

After a while, those wine bottles are going to start to feel pretty heavy. You can do more than just flap your wings about too, try some bicep curls too – to maintain motivation, promise yourself that you’ll pop the cork for the last set so every time you lift the bottle, you can take a sip.

  • The ’Binging Burpee’

You see the word burpee and want to run for the hills? Same. But don’t worry this is less hardcore HIIT, and more like active lying down.

Every time the ads come on, stand up tall, roll down through your spine until your hands are on the floor (it’s fine to bend the knees slightly to get there) then walk your hands out into plank.

Hold the plank for as long as you feel like (no pressure) and then lower, so you’re on your tummy on the floor. From there, push up onto your forearms into a cobra position (a great way to get some extension through your upper and lower back, helping undo the impact of any slouching).

Now either stay like that for the ad break or through the outro/intro for the next boxset episode, reversing the actions to get yourself back on the couch, or feel free to do a few reps if you’ve got the energy.

Ok, unless (or even if) you go at these exercises from dawn to dusk, it’s not what you’d consider an actual fitness routine.

But it will wake a few muscles up and help keep any niggling neck or back issues at bay. And that’s something to feel good about – after the year we’ve had, we could all use some more of that.

Once the festive break is over if you are feeling tight, sore, or have any aches or pains then speak to us. Either in-studio or even virtual sessions with us will help you to get stronger, more mobile and help you live a better quality of life.

Take a look at the Physiotherapy services available at Ten today, including sports and injury recovery, running gait analysis, women’s health, pelvic health and more.’