If This Happens To Your Back, You're Watching Too Much TV

Years before remote controls, changing the channel meant getting up every once in a while and turning the knob. Even when remote controls made it easier to flip channels while a commercial came on, you still had to wait every week for the next episode of your favorite show to come on. Now that we're well into the age of streaming, you can watch an entire series in just one sitting.

While this might be great because you never have to miss a show, binge-watching for hours on end isn't so great for your health. A 2016 study in Medicine (Baltimore) looked at the relationship between physical activity, television viewing time, and lower back disability in more than 5,000 people in Australia. Even though a lack of exercise wasn't associated with lower back pain, television viewing was. Women who watched more than two hours of television a day were more likely to have a lower back disability.

Sitting for long periods of time is unnatural for your spine and can put too much tension on your shoulders. According to Total Chiropractic Care, you're watching too much TV if you're experiencing back pain.

Sitting causes poor posture

When you think about it, sitting compresses the discs and vertebrae in your back. Whether you're watching your television or your computer, you're probably also straining your neck due to poor posture (per Total Chiropractic Care). Even though sitting on a couch might feel comfortable, certain muscles can become strained from this unnatural position. This puts your body out of its natural alignment and can result in back spasms, according to U.S. News and World Report.

While watching a television show or two won't cause back pain, making a habit of spending too much time in front of the tube can weaken some of your muscles. Your legs might be exhausted after a long day, but sitting for a long time weakens the muscles of your legs and glutes. Weak legs and glutes can make you unstable when you stand up (per Better Health Channel). Sitting too long also shortens the psoas muscle, which connects your spine to your legs. When your psoas muscles are tight, you'll feel more tension in your lower back when you stand up (per Greenwood Physical Therapy).

How to binge-watch without back pain

Although getting off the couch while you're binge-watching a show might be the last thing you want to do, Total Chiropractic Care says that a little exercise can help prevent poor posture that leads to back pain. Stretching and doing planks between episodes can counteract the effects of sitting too long.

A soft, comfy couch might feel great to collapse on after a long week at work, but it can wreck your back, according to MK Spine. It's a lot easier to slouch on a soft couch, so your shoulders, neck, and back will be sore from sitting for too long. If your current couch is too soft and you want to protect your back, it might be best to find a harder couch that promotes better posture. If that's not possible, sit upright on your couch like you're sitting on a chair, making sure your feet are flat on the floor and you have support for your neck. If your couch is too large for your feet to reach, it's okay to lay on the couch with your legs parallel. Just be sure to use pillows to avoid excess rounding of your back.