I have written time and time again about how we have not yet evolved to cope with the demands of modern living. There simply hasn’t been sufficient time and evolutionary pressure for us to manage the radical changes we have made to our diet, movement patterns, stress responses and living environments in the last few hundred years.
It is sad that in the Western world we are made to sit at desks from the moment our schooling years begin. The scientific research supporting just how important movement is for children’s development alone is astounding. I believe it is the lack of movement that causes humans to age far too quickly and lose their gross and fine motor skills. Movement not only gives us confidence, but is also a form of creativity and expression – all of which are being stifled by the fear-based human need to create order and control.
WHY SITTING FOR LONG PERIODS ISN’T GREAT FOR US
Loss of power and strength in the legs, butt and lower back
When we sit we’re squashing the weight of our torsos down onto our pelvis and legs. This tightens our lower back, hip and thigh muscles and weakens the muscles down the back of our legs (hamstrings) and butts.
Because the muscles in our hip region are our prime movers, where all power and locomotion originates, sitting for long periods greatly reduces our ability to move quickly, carry load and absorb shock correctly through our spines.
Hunched backs and no necks
When our upper bodies slump forward, the top of our spine gets particularly squashed down by the weight of the head. The back of the neck becomes short and weak, the front neck becomes saggy and weak and the upper back muscles long and tight.
This imbalance causes instability and dysfunction throughout the whole torso – we can experience tension headaches, irritability, anxiety, fatigue and nerve pain and numbness through the arms…
The compression through the chest and thoracic spine that accompanies a hunched back impairs the muscle that facilitate full healthy breathing.
Reducing the amount of oxygen we breathe greatly affects all manner of bodily functions such as digestion, regulating the nervous system, energy production and detoxification.
Reducing energy, oxygen and blood flow
Slumping the upper body forward also squashes the internal organs which inhibits their ability to function.
The liver struggles to detoxify, the intestines struggle to digest food effectively, the sex organs are deprived of sufficient blood flow, and waste removal becomes stagnant.
PHYSICAL SIGNS OF STAGNATION FROM LACK OF MOVEMENT & POOR POSTURE
- Fatigue, difficulty focusing and poor productivity
- Weakness, joints ache or are easily strained post exercise
- Stiffness, loud grunting and exhaling to gather energy to get up and down from a chair / the floor / bed
- Upper back and neck muscle tension
- Sore butt bones and tight lower back and hip muscles
- Feeling agitated, irritable, wired or anxious
HOW TO SIT WELL
1. Stick your butt out and push it to the back of the chair (or imaginary chair if you’re sitting on the floor or a bench).
2. Bring your upper back backwards to rest on the back of the chair (or imaginary chair if you’re sitting on the floor or a bench).
3. If seated on a chair sit with your either your feet on the floor and legs at a 90 deg angle, OR sit with both legs crossed (as in the photo above), OR sit on your feet (if the tops of your feet are flexible enough!), OR sit with your legs outstretched and resting on another chair or leg rest (just make sure your spine stays long).
4. Point your elbows towards the floor to help drop your shoulders away from your ears.
5. Suck your face into the back of your skull – or avoid jutting your chin forward.
6. Imagine you are a pillar and your head has to hold the ceiling up while your shoulders are dropping downwards.
7. Keep your eye-line level – you may need to lift your computer screen.
8. Draw your belly back towards your spine and up into the roof of your mouth.
9. MOVE FROM THIS POSITION REGULARLY! The biggest problem with sitting, second to posture, is the duration of time being stuck still in one fixed position!
- Get up and walk around as much as you can
- Turn your head from side to side, twist to look behind you, squeeze your arms together behind your back
- Stretch your butt – cross one foot over the opposite knee, stick your butt out and lean forward
- Have standing or walking meetings
- Join a morning, lunchtime or evening movement class