How to choose a couch that will support your lower back

Posted on 19. May, 2011 by in Product Advice, seating

How to choose a couch that will support my lower back

There is a large variety of sofa styles out there;

Chaise, sectional/modular, Divan, Chesterfield, sleeper etc

When  buying a couch or sofa it is important to not only consider how it looks but also whether it will support your lower back adequately, whilst you sit and as a result prevent you from slouching.

Why is this important?

Sitting in a slouched position, for as little as 10 – 20 minutes will result in increased stretching of the spinal ligaments, muscles and spinal discs as well as increased muscle spasm. This can result in micro-damage or strain to these soft tissues which often occurs without you being aware of it. It can take more than 24 hours for the soft tissues to recover from this type of stress and if you happen to sit in this way again, within that time, you will be in a position where you are stressing already strained spinal soft tissues. Given that many of us sit for long periods at home and at work, this is a real possibility.

If you were to continue to repeat this pattern of sitting over days, weeks and months this would result in a more significant injury to the spinal discs and ligaments which would result in the onset of neck, middle back and low back pain and/or pain radiating down the arms or legs from the spine.

So how do you choose a couch or sofa that will support your lower back and stop you from slouching?

Consider the following features;

Back rest / back cushion

  • Avoid back rests / cushions that reclined too far back (ie beyond 110° from the vertical).
  • Avoid head rests that force the head forward (this will result in neck strain)
  • Avoid back rests which are too thick and soft and cause you to sink too deeply into them. Also avoid backs that cause your back to bend forward “like a banana” or those which are dead straight.
  • Ensure that the back rest cushions provide plenty of support. They should be “comfortably” firm and made from a high quality foam or equivalent. Cushions with a 8 way tied spring mechanism can provide even more support.
  • Ensure that the back cushions do not move excessively; this will lead to an unstable sitting position.

Seat base depth

  • Make sure that when you sit on the couch, most of your thighs are supported and you are able to freely move your legs and bend your knee to 90° whilst still being able to feel that the back rest is supporting your spine. (Too deep a seat base will result in slouched sitting and too short a base will result in increased stressed being place on the thighs.)

Seat base height

  • Ensure that you can comfortably place your feet on the ground whilst still being to feel that your spine is well supported by the back rest. If the couch base seat is too high for you it will cause you to sit more forward in the seat and as a result slouch your spine in order  to rest it on the back rest

Seat base / cushions

  • Ensure that the base cushions are also comfortably firm and made of a high quality foam and/or foam and down combination.
  • 8 way tied springs embedded in the seating cushions can offer an even more stable seating base of support as well as a more independent seating suspension (if a person sits next to you this will have less impact on your sitting position)

Frame

  • Make sure that a high quality frame is used in the construction of the couch. This will ensure that the couch does not move excessively when you are sitting on it which will in turn enable you to adopt a stable sitting position.
  • High quality frames are usually constructed from kiln-dried hardwood and screws, timber dowel and glue are used to join the timber together.
  • Cheaper frames are made from soft pine which is stapled together.

Legs/footing

  • Make sure that the legs that are used for the couch are very sturdy and preferably wide. This will again prevent excessive movement of the couch and enable you to sit with a more stable sitting position.

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4 Responses to “How to choose a couch that will support your lower back”

  1. Maria McGowan

    23. May, 2011

    Thanks for the information provided. I found it very interesting and helpful.

    Could you please recommend a company that makes couches that will provide support for my back?

    Thanks in advance.

    Kind Regards,

    Maria McGowan

    Reply to this comment
    • JOEARICO

      23. May, 2011

      Hi there.

      Thanks for your Question.

      Moran generally makes a very good couch. Some of their couches have a high quality 8 way tied inner spring in both their base and back cushions. Jardin also have a few couches that provide some of the features that I mentioned in my blog.

      Reply to this comment
  2. DB

    06. Aug, 2012

    Thank you for this comprehensive article, excellent.

    Reply to this comment
    • JOEARICO

      09. Aug, 2012

      No problems.
      Thank you for your feedback.
      Good luck finding a couch.

      regards
      Joe

      Reply to this comment

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