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The best sofa styles for your back

Firm chesterfield sofa for a bad back

So, you’ve found the perfect sofa. You love its texture, shape and the colours completely complement your décor. But how does it actually feel to sit on?

Do you twist and turn your lower back in your seat? Do you feel your upper body hunch forward after a few minutes of sitting? If the answer is yes to either of these questions, then you might need to think about switching up your sofa style.

Give your back the TLC it needs by reading some of our expert tips, below.

Focus on firmness

As with mattress buying, you should find a sofa which gives you sufficient back support in every sitting position. While super soft sofas may look and feel comfy, they often mould too closely to the back, which can cause posture problems.

You can make sure your back muscles are engaged by firstly checking the firmness of the foam on both the seat and back cushions. If you notice that you sink into the sofa after just a few minutes, your sofa might be too soft and could be the cause of back problems in the future (in which case, you may need to buy new foam cushions). 

To fend off any nasty niggles, look for a sofa which specifically supports your lower back. Here are some examples:

Sofa styles with firm cushions:

  • Chesterfield sofas
    • While Chesterfield sofas were designed to suit the formal sitting style of the 19th century, they’re still a comfortable choice today. Their deep, yet firm, cushioned backs are great for supporting the back, while the upright backrest helps with sitting at the right angle. Recessed buttons also help to naturally support bodyweight.
  • Federal sofas
    • With their robust frame, slim foam and upright positioning, Federal sofas are ideal for those looking to cut out slouching.

Federal sofa in green

TOP TIP: To be sure that your sofa is both firm and comfortable, check that the foam density is at least 2.4 (this indicates the amount of weight the foam can support over a cubic foot). This is often marked on the sofa’s label, underneath the seats.

Suit your sofa to your size

Modern sofa with low back support

Have you ever wondered why your partner never experiences the same sort of back pain as you? Don’t worry, you’re not making a mountain out of a molehill – it could be because your legs are too long/short for your sofa.

To make sure you have the best sofa for back support, check that you can rest your feet flat on the floor when seated (try this in the sofa showroom for at least 10 minutes).

Next, watch how your legs fold around the sofa’s edge. If you have long legs you might notice there is space between the edge of the sofa cushion and the back of your knee when you stretch your legs to the floor. Over time, sitting like this can cause pressure to build on the veins and arteries in your legs, so it’s worth finding a different sofa style before problems arise.

Similarly, if your sofa is too low to the floor, you might experience back strain. This is because the nerves in your spine are being pulled.

Get comfortable

Brown Recliner Sofa

To make sure your sofa frame is supporting your lower back, take a look at where the seat and back of your sofa meet; if you notice a deep gap between the seat and back of your sofa (a typical feature of old-fashioned wooden-backed sofas), your body is more inclined to sink down and slouch into the gap.

Take a look at some of the most supportive sofa styles, below.

Sofa styles with ergonomic frames:

  • Recliner sofas
    • Recliners cradle the back and neck while evenly distributing weight across the whole body. The raised feet position is also handy for taking pressure off the lower back. For more information about the benefits of choosing a recliner armchair, take a look at our Total Comfort range.

TOP TIP: If you do choose a recliner sofa, opt for one which doesn’t lean too far back and isn’t too deep – you want a sofa which keeps your head and body perfectly aligned.

TOP TIP: If possible, choose an upright sofa with armrests to combat slouching.

Give yourself a lift

Tuxedo sofa with back support cushions

There’s a reason why it’s a good idea to put your feet up after a long day at the office. Raising the legs is actually a great way to take the weight off your lower back, while also preventing twisting and turning at its base.

If your sofa doesn’t already come with a leg rest, accompanying footrests or ottomans will do the job just as well. Headrests, high backs, wide arms and reclining features add more comfort, too.

Sofa styles which lift the spine:

  • Tuxedo sofas
    • The high arms on Tuxedo sofas are ideal for positioning the upper back and aligning the spine.
  • Camelback sofas
    • These sofas are so-called for their middle-humped high backs (similar to the hump of a camel). These sofas have high arms which are great for propping up the upper back.

TOP TIP: When you do put your feet up, make sure your legs are elevated above heart level so that blood flow isn’t restricted.

If your sofa is giving you back problems, it could be because you need special back support cushions, extra foam in the seats or need to fix the frame. For reupholstery advice from our experts, get in touch with our friendly Plumbs team on 0800 019 0505.

Sally is the Digital Marketing Manager at Plumbs. Prior to Plumbs, she ran the digital marketing strategy for Johnson’s Cleaners UK. Her interests include home interiors and upcycling, and her favourite show to watch after work is Homes Under the Hammer. Some of the topics she covers on the Plumbs blog include sofa reupholstery and furniture protection.

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