The Impact of Prolonged TV Watching on Posture and How to Prevent Common Issues
In the digital age, binge-watching TV shows has become a common pastime for many. However, excessive TV watching often leads to poor sitting postures that can result in a range of physical issues such as back pain and neck pain. This article delves into the most prevalent back and postural problems associated with extended TV viewing and provides insights into how to counter these problems effectively with the help of a physiotherapist.
3 Ways that your TV-watching posture could be wrecking your body
A common sitting posture adopted during extended TV sessions involves sliding down the chair and leaning the upper back against the backrest. While comfortable in the short term, this posture presents several issues:
1) Lower Back Strain
One of the most prevalent issues stemming from prolonged TV watching is lower back strain. The way we sit during these sessions can significantly impact the muscles and joints in the lower back region. The lower back muscles and joints are stretched when we sink into the couch or chair and lean against the backrest. This prolonged stretching can lead to discomfort and even pain over time. Individuals with preexisting lower back conditions may find this posture exacerbates their pain, making it important to address this concern.
2) Tightened Hip Flexors & Imbalanced Muscles
Sitting for extended periods often involves bending our knees and hips, leading to the tightening of hip flexor muscles. These muscles become shorter in this position, which can result in imbalanced muscle tension between the front and back of the body. Tight hip flexors can pull on the pelvis, contributing to an anterior pelvic tilt and increasing strain on the lower back. This imbalance can negatively affect posture and contribute to lower back discomfort.
3) Poor posture – Forward Head Posture
Perhaps one of the most alarming issues associated with prolonged TV watching is the development of forward head posture. When we slouch or lean our upper back against the backrest while watching TV, our head tends to jut forward. This forward head position places significant strain on the muscles and joints of the neck. Over time, it can lead to muscle tightness, discomfort, and even headaches. The neck’s delicate structure is not designed to withstand this prolonged strain, making it crucial to address this issue promptly.
The Importance of Frequent Movement to prevent aches and pain
To counter the negative effects of prolonged sitting, it is recommended to take breaks every 20-30 minutes. Remember, small breaks taken frequently are more beneficial than infrequent longer breaks. For instance, taking a 5 to 10 minute break after 50 to 60 minutes of sitting down is much better as compared to taking a 20 minute break every 3 hours.
Active movements during breaks such as taking a brisk walk or walking the stairs are good ways to move about and stretch the muscles in areas like the neck and back. In fact, just standing up and stretching is better than sitting down the whole time. If you find it disruptive to keep standing up, doing simple neck and shoulder stretches while seated, or even turning the body side-to-side to stretch the mid and lower back can also be considered as a break. Pumping the arms upwards while seated is another great way to stretch and get the heart pumping and lungs expanding so that the upper body can get a simple workout.
5 Tips for Maintaining Optimal Posture to Prevent Aches and Pain
Sitting down to enjoy your favourite TV shows shouldn’t come at the cost of your physical well-being. Adopting the right posture while watching TV can help you avoid aches and pains that often result from prolonged periods of sitting. Here’s the best posture to adopt to ensure your musculoskeletal health:
1. Sit Back with Proper Lumbar Support
Choose a comfortable chair or couch with proper lumbar support. Sit back in the seat and ensure your lower back is well-supported by the chair’s backrest. This helps maintain the natural curve of your lower spine, preventing strain on your back muscles.
2. Keep Your Feet Flat on the Floor
Position your feet flat on the floor, hip-width apart. Avoid crossing your legs, as it can lead to poor circulation and discomfort over time. Keeping your feet grounded provides a stable foundation for your spine.
3. Maintain a Neutral Head Position
Your head should be in line with your spine, facing forward. Avoid tilting your head down or craning it forward, as this can strain your neck and shoulder muscles. A neutral head position minimizes stress on these areas.
4. Bend Your Knees at a 90-Degree Angle
Ensure that your knees are at approximately a 90-degree angle when seated. This position reduces strain on your hips and lower back. If your chair is too high or too low, consider using a cushion to achieve the correct knee angle.
5. Use Cushions for Comfort
If necessary, use cushions to support your lower back and maintain the natural curve of your spine. Cushions can also provide extra support to your neck and shoulders, enhancing overall comfort.
Seek Physiotherapy Help for Prolonged Aches and Pain
In the quest for an enjoyable TV viewing experience, don’t overlook the significance of maintaining proper posture. By adopting the recommended sitting positions, taking regular breaks, and listening to your body’s signals, you can ensure that your favourite shows don’t come at the cost of your musculoskeletal health. However, if you’re experiencing chronic aches and pains resulting from prolonged TV watching or any other activities, it’s essential to prioritize your well-being. Seeking professional physiotherapy help from a qualified physiotherapist can provide tailored guidance, exercises, and treatments to address your specific concerns. Remember, a proactive approach to your health can lead to a more comfortable and pain-free lifestyle, allowing you to truly relax and enjoy your screen time. Drop us a message to speak to our team of physiotherapists today!