Is What’s “Comfortable” Causing Your Pain?

Lately I’ve been discussing how sometimes the things that we think of as  comfortable (in theory) often end up causing long term tightness and pain.

It takes a long time for the pain and tightness to become noticeable or cause injury, and it also takes a while to undo and gradually stretch and decompress the body from the shape or position that caused the pain. But it can be done.

Which brings me to the next innocent-but-could-be-painful spot:

your couch.

Of course there’s nothing more welcoming than a nice comfy couch.

These days you can sit on the couch for much longer than you would like to admit. Between binge watching shows on Nextflix to online games and working from home, you could easily spend several hours at a time on the couch.

You can be initially so comfortable….and so focused on whatever it is that you are doing that you don’t realize that it’s hurting you. And in some cases it doesn’t hurt you right away.

But compressed posture will always come back to haunt you later, when you least expect it.

You’ve probably heard of people throwing their back out sneezing or taking off their socks.  That’s when it happens….out of the blue, often after sitting for a long time in a compressed position.

I’m focusing on the couch here, because so often we talk about the desk, work environment and texting etc.   But what about our “hang out” posture and furniture?  I’m not against couches….that photo is of my son on our couch years ago (where he practically lives still and he’s 15 now). We all love this couch. But it’s not the most spine-friendly piece of furniture.

It’s just helpful to notice that if you have back pain, and seems to be worse after hanging out on the couch, it might be a good idea to not spend long periods of time there.

Often the more squishy your couch is, the more likely it is that it will cause you to slouch.
Beware of  injuries caused by long periods of time playing intense, hard core Words with Friends. It happens!

The more you sink into the cushions and your back rounds into a compressed position, the more likely you are to overstretch, put pressure on your discs and organs and reinforce a tucked pelvis, weak pelvic floor and tight, misaligned neck.

Taking breaks from sitting too long in one position on a couch is a good idea.   Check in with your body, awareness is everything.

I highly recommend laying flat on your back on the floor with your legs up the wall: this helps to undo compression, gives your spine a really nice lengthened support and feels amazing.  The older I get the more I appreciate the hard floor!!

I mention all these things: pillows, heels, and couches….because we work so hard using exercise and awareness to improve our posture and relieve our aches and pains, but these things are so ingrained in our lives that we don’t realize every time we use them that we are potentially creating exactly the problem that we are trying to improve. Again, like I said I’m not against them – but just knowing how they affect your alignment is helpful because once you know, you can make new habits to manage whether to use them, for how long and how to use exercises that help to re-align.

Hopefully this advice will help with slouch-couch related back pain!

We address all slouch related back pain in my Friday class which happens every week at 12:15! No experience necessary! Click here to sign up!

Prefer to try it out on your own? Check out my Beginner Bundle which is a short, self-paced intro to Pilates and ELDOA. Click here to learn more. 

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Hi, I’m Danielle O’Connell

Pilates Teacher, ELDOA Trainer and Health Coach.

I’m here to help integrate body, mind and soul through Pilates practice while helping instructors & students get better results in their daily practice. 

I truly believe that healthy movement is an important part of both physical and mental wellness, and that Pilates and ELDOA work amazingly well to help you achieve freedom in your body and a sense of wellbeing.

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