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The Impact Binge Watching has on Your Posture blog

The Impact Binge Watching has on Your Posture

by Brian Whittington, PT, DPT, CMTPTLeave a Comment

Have you ever been scrolling through a streaming platform and notice that your favorite show has a new season available? Typically the first thing that enters your mind is, “well there goes the next six hours of my life.” We’ve all done it. Plopped ourselves down on the couch and just rattled off a season’s worth of episodes without moving an inch. Yet, when you finally gather the strength to get off the couch, your body feels wrecked.

This shouldn’t be surprising as binge watching TV can easily lead to all kinds of pain. Most of these are related to poor posture as you continue to press “next episode.” There are three common poor postural positions that binge watching causes. Let’s discuss them.

Forward Head

The forward head might be the most noticeable poor posture position. This is when your head is stretched forward with your chin leading the way. This looks similar to when you lean forward to read small writing.

In this position, the boney tunnels where the nerves leave the spine can become smaller and may cause pain. This can particularly occur when your TV is significantly higher than your head height, causing you to look up to see it. The longer you watch TV the more your head and neck fall into this position.

Rounded Shoulders

Rounded shoulders follow naturally from the forward head posture. This is characterized by your shoulders slumped forward which causes a “hump” at the base of your neck. This posture can cause pain in a few places.

When your shoulders are rounded, your shoulder blades tip and rotate into a position that causes the muscles and tendons in your shoulder to become “pinched” or possibly “irritated.” This position can also make it difficult for you to fully expand your chest to gain a full breath. This will cause secondary muscles to “lift” your chest in order to take a breath.

The longer you are watching TV, the more you seem to collapse into yourself.

Flat Back

Flat back is when you are sitting half way in your seat, with your hip rotated backwards. This is the classic “slumped” sitting position, in which you sit on your tail bone instead of your buttocks. Couches are notorious for encouraging this poor posture.

The low back is designed to have a particular shape that resembles the bottom of the letter S. This means that your low back has a slight inward, or concave, curve to it. When the low back has the proper curve it causes the spine to act as a shock absorbing spring. If the spine loses this curve it can cause it to function more like a column, which does not properly absorb the force.

The Binge that Bites

So what’s the big deal? Well, these prolonged postures can be a significant source of pain.
Mechanical back pain is pain that is caused by trauma or abnormal stress applied through the muscle, tendons and bones. When we apply improper stress to structures they become painful.

Think about pulling your finger back until you feel a stretch at the point your finger connects to your palm. Now hold that there for 6 hours of binge watching TV! Spoiler alert, it’s going to hurt. This is essentially what you are doing when you are binge watching TV with poor posture.

Beat the Binge Pain

  • Fortunately, this does not mean that you have to give up watching your favorite shows. There are several tips that can help you beat the binge pain, including:
  • Get up and move between episodes. Movement is key to keeping the pain away.
  • Make sure your butt is all the way to the back of the cushion to keep proper low back posture.
  • Consider using a lumbar support device, such as a pillow or cushion, to help maintain proper lumbar positions.
  • Keep upper back and shoulders against the back cushion to avoid slumping.
  • Possibly lower your TV height to avoid needing to look up, which encourages a forward head posture.
  • Consider limiting the use of electronic devices while watching TV, as this causes you to collapse forward into the rounded shoulder and forward head positions.

Our Experts Can Help

If you are concerned about your posture or are experiencing low back pain, schedule a free assessment at a nearby Athletico clinic. Our experts can assess your pain, provide posture tips and outline next steps for your recovery process.

Schedule a Free Assessment

The Athletico blog is an educational resource written by Athletico employees. Athletico bloggers are licensed professionals who abide by the code of ethics outlined by their respective professional associations. The content published in blog posts represents the opinion of the individual author based on their expertise and experience. The content provided in this blog is for informational purposes only, does not constitute medical advice and should not be relied on for making personal health decisions.

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About the Author:
Brian Whittington is a physical therapist and regional director for Athletico. Brian is particularly interested in treating knee and shoulder injuries and specializes in post-operative ACL reconstruction rehabilitation. Brian's treatment focus also includes the growing patient population dealing with chronic pain. His practice philosophy is not limited to injury recovery but includes education for injury prevention and general health and wellness. Brian's mission is simple, keeping people moving so they can live optimally healthy lives.

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