As the World Cup is fast approaching, many of us are looking forward to spending some serious time enjoying the football from our couches. But what about the risks that long term sitting poses to your back? Osteopath Leor Okrent of Finchley Osteopathy has some tips for avoiding couch slouch while enjoying the game.

1. 320px-Pretty_girl_watching_TVDon’t sit for too long with your feet up as this will put strain on your lower back. Make sure to change positions regularly for example by jumping up and cheering when a goal is scored (you may want to consider doing this for the opposing team as well)

2. Make sure to get up and make a cup of tea at half time

3. Experiencing occasional stress is good for you, but if stress becomes an ever-present part of your life (say when watching an England game), this may result in your body’s “fight or flight” mechanism working overtime.

Tension may build up in your muscles and pull you into the land of slouching. My suggestion, as an osteopath, is take preventative measures. Say no to slouching by supporting Brazil or Spain.

4. Stretch with your team! Why not warm up with the players in the build up to the match. You could also consider warming down at the end.

5. Breathe slowly — in through your nose, and fill your belly. Hold for a few seconds. Then slowly let the breath out. Practice this throughout the match to decrease stress and improve posture. In the event of an England penalty shootout, don’t forget to breath out!

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6. Use pillows and seat wedges to help maintain normal spinal curves when sitting to decrease postural stress. If you find that you’ve had to invite a friend who’s supporting the rival team, you may want to consider sitting or propping your feet up on them.

7. Avoid over-texting whilst watching the match. The constant tilt of your head forward and slouching may lead to shoulder and neck tension. If done repeatedly, this can also result in tension headaches (and surely watching England will give you enough of a headache on its own).

8. Sleeping in the wrong position on the couch can be as damaging as walking with a slouch. I strongly suggest avoiding riveting group stage matches the likes of Iran v Bosnia and Herzegovina (25th June at 5pm just in case you’re interested!)

9. The abdominal muscles help support your lower back and give it stability, but an overhanging belly will put the back into an arched position. You may want to reconsider those snacks and beers you were planning to have whilst watching the matches.

10. Finally, to prevent injury, it’s important to learn how to get up from the couch safely when a goal is scored.

Practice the following:

  1. Move your bottom to the edge of the couch.
  2. Place both feet flat on the floor.
  3. Place both hands on the arm rests. If there are no arm rests, place both hands on the edge of the chair.
  4. Lean forward so that your nose is over your toes.
  5. Push down through your arms as you help unload your weight off the chair.
  6. As you’re pushing down through your arms, begin straightening your legs.
  7. Let go of the chair and finish straightening your legs.
  8. Stand up nice and straight and cheer!!!

Please note, avoid grasping unsteady objects, such as friends or family, when a goal is scored!