Movement as Medicine: Couch or Beach Chair Slouching  

Are you sitting too much? Everybody knows that sitting for long periods of time is detrimental to our health. But we still do it. The average US adult spends 9-10 hours a day sitting. We sit our jobs. We sit at computers. We sit watching TV. We sit in automobiles as passengers or drivers. The older we get, the more time we spend sitting.

Sitting Upright Too Long Can Cause Disc Degeneration, Spinal Height Loss, And Lower Back Pain.

The vertebral discs in your spine expand, contract, and stay hydrated as we move. But, when we sit, they stay compressed, resulting in height loss and disc degeneration.

Sitting puts even more pressure on your spine than standing. And if you are sitting and hunched over a computer, the pressure is even greater.

Most of us sit so much that going to the gym or the yoga studio or taking a walk is not enough to offset the damage. We are “actively sedentary.”

The most common advice given to counteract prolonged sitting and its effects is to “take breaks”, “get your body moving”, or “alternate sitting with standing”. But a 2017 study would have us to consider another possibility: slouching on the couch.

2017 Study: Reclining Postures Allow Intervertebral Discs To Decompress, Counteracting Spinal Compression That Comes from Prolonged Upright Sitting.

A scientific study reported in Applied Ergonomics1 suggest that alternating upright sitting with Propped Slouched Sitting (PPS), or even reclining postures, could be a better way to address the lower back pain that comes from sitting too long. Because it directly addresses the trunk load and loss of spinal height that is causing the pain.

The study measured changes in the spinal height of 34 healthy adults (19 men, 15 women), ages 15-35, without current neck or lower back pain. These results should apply to us at any age.

Subjects started in a supine position to normalize spine height, followed by loaded upright sitting, followed by Propped Slouched Sitting.

The 2017 study concluded that 10 minutes of PPS postures can reverse the damaging effects of prolonged upright sitting.

Researchers suggested that their findings support a similar conclusion with other reclined seating positions, which could also be expected to increase the level of unloading.

Are you a person who suffers from lower back pain when you sit too long? I invite you to try couch or beach chair slouching for a change. Listen to your own body. Let me know how this works for you.

Summing Up:

A 2017 study found that alternating upright sitting with reclining postures directly addresses the trunk loading that causes lower back pain when we sit too long. Don’t be afraid to slouch in your couch or on your beach chair. It might be a game-changer for your lower back pain! And.. you might get taller!

Reference List: Increased spinal height using propped slouched sitting postures: Innovative ways to rehydrate intervertebral discs, Applied Ergonomics 66 (2018) 9-17.

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[Medical Disclaimer: This article is for education and information only. It is not a substitute for a doctor’s opinion.]