Are you one of those who flops on the sofa at the end of the day, ready to be entertained by something mindless on television?

Not only is a diet of TV bad for the mind, it also wreaks havoc on the body.

However, if you cannot tear yourself away from the TV, there are exercises you can do, but you need to get off the couch during commercial breaks.

Physiotherapist Jindee Boolsambatra from the Changi Sports Medicine Centre at Changi General Hospital said that sofas today tend to be too soft.

This makes the hips sink deeper into the seat.

When this happens, users adopt the 'C' shape posture, she said.

The 'C' shape posture is one in which the head and neck protrude forward and the upper back, lower back and shoulders are rounded.

In this posture, certain muscles in the body are contracted or 'shortened', and will eventually tighten. This may lead to neck, shoulder, back and knee pain.

It is important for couch potatoes to get off their sofas once in a while to stretch out those tight muscles.

Take the chance during a commercial break to try out these exercises. You can even do them with your family members.

To start off, here are two exercises, demonstrated by Ms Jindee, to work your core area.


Lower back muscle/ broad back muscle stretch

The quadratus lumborum (lower back muscle) is a muscle that originates from the back of the hip bone and goes into the lower ribs.

The latissimus dorsi (broad back muscle) is a muscle that originates from the back of the hip bone and spine and goes into the arm.

Due to their attachments to the spine, these muscles can cause extra loading and eventual pain in the lower back if they become too tight. It is therefore important to maintain flexibility in these muscles.

Here are the steps to stretch your quadratus lumborum and latissimus dorsi:

1. Interlace your fingers.

2. Raise your arms towards the ceiling, with palms facing out.

3. Bend your trunk to the right, feeling the stretch on the left side of your trunk. Hold the stretch for 10 seconds.

4. Repeat this, but to the left. Repeat the whole set five times.


Hip flexor stretch

Hip flexors are muscles that originate from the lower back and go into the thigh bone.

If these muscles become too tight, they may cause the pelvis to rotate excessively forward, leading to an enhanced curvature, or what is called ?lordosis?, in the lower back.

An increase in lordosis could lead to overloading in the spinal structures in the lower back. In the long run, this could lead to the development of lower back pain. Here are the steps to stretch your hip flexors:

1. Adopt a lunge position by placing one leg forward. Stretch the back leg so that it is resting on the ground on only the toes.

2. Slowly lower your pelvis towards the floor until you feel the stretch at the front of the thigh of the back leg. Ensure that your bent knee is directly over the ankle.

Your posture is incorrect if the knee of the bent leg has gone beyond the toes.

Without the support of the ankle, pressure builds up under the knee cap and could lead to the development of anterior knee pain.

3. Hold the stretch for 10 seconds and repeat five times.

4. Switch legs and repeat steps 1 to 3.

Sources: Ms Jindee Boolsambatra, physiotherapist at Changi Sports Medicine Centre at Changi General Hospital; Mr Wesley Wai, physiotherapist at Singapore Sports Medicine Centre at Novena Medical Centre