Watch Your Leisure Time
Is your favourite chair or your favourite leisure-time activity causing problems with your posture? When relaxation involves long hours of sitting - watching TV, reading, knitting or crocheting or spending time at the computer - the type of chair you use and the position you assume can contribute to back and neck strain.
An armchair or couch which is too soft can put a great deal of strain on the entire back. Many contemporary sofas and armchairs have a low back and a seat which is too long from front to back. Such a seat makes it necessary to slouch unless a thick cushion is placed behind the back. When sitting for long periods of time the back should be straight with some support for the low back extending up to the base of the shoulder blades. The feet should rest comfortably on the floor.
Recliner chairs often cause problems if the back is curved and the head is pushed forward by the headrest. This produces a C-curve in the back and neck which can be a real source of strain. If you have such a chair you may need to add some padding behind the lower back to give you more support in a straighter posture.
Many people don’t realize that they are in the habit of watching TV from an angle. They don’t face the set squarely and their neck or body may be twisted for several hours, causing neck and back problems. Sitting with one leg under the buttocks or both legs curved to one side can also create back strain. A common posture for children when watching TV is lying on the stomach with the elbows on the floor and the chin resting on the hands. This puts a great deal of stress on the low back and neck.
When sitting at the computer, it is important that you sit straight with your low back against the back of the chair and your feet on the floor. The monitor should be at or below eye level and the mouse pad should be at the level of your elbow when the arm is relaxed.
The most important thing to remember with any sedentary activity is to get up and move around frequently. If watching TV, it isn’t too difficult to get into the habit of moving around or even doing some exercises during commercials. When knitting or crocheting, reading a book or working on the computer, remembering to take breaks can be more difficult. It may be necessary to set a timer to remind you to get up and stretch and move around periodically.
Finally, consider getting out for a walk or doing some exercises in your leisure time to minimize the "recreational strain" of sitting so long. You may be relaxing mentally but your back may be under more stress than while you are working.