Are you sitting comfortably? Then you might be ruining your back, says a survey.
Soft sofas are being blamed for a rise in back problems. A fifth of people reported symptoms such as lower back ache and shoulder strain after purchasing a luxurious sofa and reclining on it regularly.
While wooden chairs or upright furniture were more popular in years gone by, increasingly people are opting for soft settees with deep cushions to sink into.
Although softer furniture might feel more comfortable, physiotherapist Richard Evans warned it could lead to discomfort in the long-run.
He said that comfier sofas encourage people to slouch rather than sit in a more supportive position to boost good posture.
Mr Evans, of The Back and Body Clinic in Northampton, said ‘Sitting comfortably may seem a very basic human activity but in fact sitting properly, with muscles and vertebrae supported efficiently, does require good back support and posture.’
He added: ‘Modern sofas and cushioned chairs can encourage poor posture as the soft upholstery may not give the spine and neck the support that is required.
‘By sitting for too long, especially in a poor postural or slumped position you can add a tremendous amount of pressure to your back, overstretch the spinal ligaments and increase the pressure on your intervertebral discs. This in turn can lead to on-going aches and pains.’
Adults in Western countries spend between 55 per cent and 70 per cent of their day sitting, and eight in ten British people suffer at least one bout of lower back pain during their lives.
The NHS advises that to avoid back pain, it is best to sit with your knees level with your hips, your lower back properly supported and with both feet on the floor. Crossing your legs or putting them up on the sofa next to you can lead to aches caused by bad posture.
The survey of 2,000 people was commissioned by Salonpas, which makes pain relief patches.
Other aspects of modern life which sufferers blamed for back pain included walking in high heels (22 per cent); carrying a large shoulder bag (47 per cent), and hunching over a smart phone (47 per cent).