It may come as no surprise that 80% of people use their sofa for relaxing and watching TV. There’s nothing better than sprawling on the sofa watching your favourite film. But have you ever thought about how you sit on your sofa? And what does your seating position say about you?
To find out, we conducted a study of 1,000 people to explore the nations sofa habits, and spoke to body expert Robert Phipps to get the lowdown on what it all means.
According to Phipps, ‘Sitting on your sofa is a time for relaxing, but how you choose to sit most often can be an indication of other things going on in your personal and professional life, as the body language used is a reflection of your inner emotions.’
To find out more, take a look at our results and discover what each seating position reveals.
This is the most popular position we found, with over a third of people adopting the ‘sprawl’ position across the whole sofa.
Robert Phipps explains: “This position is adopted most by people who hate their job, unfortunately, which could be the reason why people who sit like this appear to be focusing on de-stressing and relaxing as much as they can.”
The second most popular seating position is to sit straight up, which according to our results is adopted by a quarter of us.
“This is quite a controlled position not really allowing the body and spine to relax, which would indicate you still carry some of the stress from your day.”
The Dive Bomb
For those who choose to sit tucked up, we’ve termed this the Dive Bomb. Over 16% of people asked said they sit like this.
“This changes the angle of your spine and hips, allowing your body to slump over to one side releasing some of the days tension. This is often related to feelings of anxiety, but our study shows the opposite. This probably reflects being as contented as a baby and dealing with life’s stresses with ease.”
“Crossing the legs (the Buddha) stops one leg from falling away, keeping you stable as you slouch across the chair. This is the way to really unwind, as adopted by 15% of survey participants.
This position, with crossed legs and hands resting in the lap, is well rounded and symmetrical, reflecting an overall contentment and inner confidence.
Reflected by someone who is a calm person, keeping a straight back allows you to breath better and compose yourself more quickly.”
Nearly 5% of you like to spread out with open legs for extra space. According to Robert Phipps, “this spread our position makes you feel more in control of that space. Feet on the floor is as they say ‘very grounded’, doesn’t give you much wiggle room, so the body stays erect and is not the most relaxing of positions.”
The Cheap Seats
Ranking the sixth most popular position, many of you told us you prefer to get comfy on the floor.
“Sitting on the floor is likely to be adopted by anyone who either doesn’t find their sofa very comfortable or by someone who likes to do things their own way and not be shackled by rules.”
Finally, the least popular seating position people adopt is sitting on the arm of a chair, which straight away gives off the message ‘I’m not staying for long’.
According to Robert Phipps, “this elevates the feet and lower legs so is very soothing after a long day.”
Seating Tips for Better Posture
The way you sit on your sofa not only reveals your personality, but can affect your comfort and posture too! While starfishing may be relaxing after a long day, but it’s not the best position to adopt for your long-term health.
If you often find yourself slouching and sprawling, we’ve got some expert tips on how to sit properly from Dawn Morse (Msc Sports and Health Sciences) founder of Core Elements.
Think about your positioning and avoid slumping your shoulders and back
If your sitting in a hunched up or slouched position you’ll be placing excessive pressure onto the joints within your spine and especially the lower back as this is the larger weigh bearing area. Aim to sit in an upright and lengthened position so that the muscles in the spine are long and your chest is lifted.
Make sure your lower back is supported
Support your back by sitting into the chair or sofa so that your bottom is pressing into the back of the chair. If there is a gap between the back and the chair or sofa due to the length of your legs that prop the gap with cushions for additional support. Ideally your knees are level with your hips. If your knees fall lower than this a foot stall can help.
Plant your feet flat on the floor or lengthen your legs straight out in front of you
To help you avoid slumping the spine, place your feel flat on the floor or on a foot-stall as this will help you to sit in a tall position and to avoid placing additional pressure onto the lower back. Or if you have a leg support the same height of your sofa, you can lengthen your legs straight out in front of you so you’re sitting in a tall position with the legs long and knees in line with the hips. This will help you to stretch out the hamstring muscle group, which can often be a shorted muscle which contributes to lower back pain.
Move around and stretch
When watching your favourite programme its temping to stay in one position for the duration of the programme. But this can be problematic for circulation and can lead to discomfort from a sustained position. To avoid this aim to move around, especially during the breaks. When the adverts come on use this as your trigger to walk to the kitchen to get a drink of water or to walk up the stairs to boost your movement and circulation.
Along with increasing your circulation through movement, the advert break is also the ideal time to stretch out. Use this time to stretch out your hamstrings (back of the legs) and quadriceps muscles (front of the tight) as these can often be short and tight and contribute to lower back pain. But at the same time also aim to stretch out the front of the shoulders and chest muscles as these can become tight from sustained slouched positions, be it from sitting and watching television at the end of the day or whilst sitting at your desk during the working day.
For more information on each seating position and it’s comfort and posture rating, we’ve created a handy infographic below that’s perfect for sharing.
Looking for the perfect sofa to stretch out on? Discover the best style to suit your needs in our sofa buying guide.