Movie nights at home are a great way to relax and unwind after a long week. However, if you suffer from chronic back pain, sitting on the couch for hours can end up aggravating your symptoms. The combination of staying still in one position and slouching into soft cushions can strain your back and cause discomfort. But you don’t have to give up your favorite movie marathons just because you have back pain. With some adjustments, you can still enjoy quality movie time at home without suffering the next day. Here are some tips:
Choose Supportive Seating
Pay attention to your seating when watching movies at home. The way you sit can either strain or support your back. Soft, sagging couches usually don’t provide enough support and let you slump into poor posture. Try sitting in firmer armchairs or add some supportive cushions to your couch. A small pillow behind your lower back encourages better spine alignment when seated.
You can also place a rolled-up towel under your knees when seated. This takes pressure off your lower back. Some people find relief sitting on an exercise ball or back-friendly ergonomic chair while watching movies. Just be sure your feet are supported to avoid straining your back to compensate. Don’t sit for longer than 30 minutes without changing positions.
Improve Your Setup
Tweaking the setup of your TV and furniture can also limit back strain when watching movies. Position your TV screen directly in front of your seat at eye-level to avoid constant neck craning. Place your couch a reasonable distance from the screen instead of across the room.
Bring any chairs or sofas forward so you don’t have to constantly lean forward. This prevents hunching your back into a compressed position. Use a TV tray or ottoman to prop up your feet and take pressure off your lower spine. Adjust room lighting to prevent glare and make it easier to see the screen comfortably.
Take Movement Breaks
Sitting still on the couch for hours while watching movies may worsen back tension and stiffness. Get up every 30 minutes to stretch your back or take a short 5-10 minute walking break. Simple motions like knee lifts, torso twists, shoulder rolls and cat-cows can loosen up your spine between movies.
You can also place a yoga mat near the TV and flow through gentle movements like child’s pose to decompress your back during more stagnant parts of the film. Just don’t try anything too aggressive if you’re already in pain. Light activity relieves pressure on the back. Stay hydrated as well to prevent painful back spasms.
Try Alternative Reclined Positions
Lying down may feel better on your back than upright sitting during movie marathons. Try watching movies propped up on your side with a pillow between your knees. You can also recline in a supportive lounge chair with an extender to elevate your legs. This takes pressure off the lower back. Some people find relief placing a pillow under their knees while lying on the floor.
Just be cautious about lying on extremely soft surfaces like beds, which let the back sink in. Avoid twisting or extending your neck too far while lying down as well. Switch between reclining and sitting up throughout the movie to find the most comfortable positions for your back.
Use Heat and Cold Therapy
Alternating heat and cold therapy can soothe back muscles between movies or after overdoing it on the couch. Try wrapping a microwavable heating pad, electric blanket or hot water bottle in a towel and applying to sore back muscles for 10-15 minutes to stimulate blood flow. For cold therapy, apply ice packs wrapped in cloth to the back for 10-15 minutes to reduce inflammation. Finish with gentle back stretches.
Consider Over-the-Counter Medication
For acute back pain flares from long movie nights, over-the-counter anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen can provide temporary relief. Consult your doctor about prescription muscle relaxers for severe muscle spasms as well. Topical menthol, CBD cream, capsaicin cream or Salonpas patches may also ease soreness when applied to the back.
See a Physical Therapist
If home treatments aren’t managing your back pain, make an appointment with a physical therapist. They can assess your posture issues and create a customized program of stretches, exercises and manual therapy techniques to reduce your back pain long-term. Getting professional guidance means you can keep enjoying movie nights pain-free.
Even if you have chronic back issues, you don’t have to give up your favorite movie marathons at home. With some adjustments to your seating, posture, positioning and home therapy, you can limit back discomfort. Remember to get up and move regularly, and consult a doctor if pain persists despite your best efforts. A few modifications mean you can have your popcorn and watch movies, too!