Take a seat
Believe it or not, sitting can be a skill; and many of us are professionals. However, some may not be aware that sitting the conventional way can affect our posture and physical health. One may wonder how these elements are connected, and the answer is through immobility and incorrected stability. Most of us who have office jobs and remain at a desk for hours on end feel privileged to be at a relaxed position while working, as opposed to those who must lift heavy items, run to and fro, and engage their muscles in order to complete a task, nevertheless, those who remain seated are the ones in danger of afflicting damage to their bodies on a permanent level.
Lower back pain is something that most of us go through. Be it in the form of small aches throughout the day that can be remedied by resting, or chronic pain that requires medical attention, we all experience this type of pain at some stage in our lives. Now more than ever, people are subject to demanding daily routines that contribute to our exposure to lower back pain; longer commutes, overtime at the office, watching hours upon hours of television – all sitting based activities. Many of us believe that once we are sitting, we are at rest, which is a huge misunderstanding. Although are muscles may be somewhat relaxed, our spine is not in a restful state, and this is a huge issue that opens us up to other physical hurdles.
This illustration, received from the Washington Post, is an accurate depiction of what’s going on internally every time we take a seat.
Organ damage through slower blood flow can lead to heart disease and an over productive pancreas.
Muscle degeneration can occur as abdominal muscles go unused when slumped on a chair. Hip flexors are prone to tighten up in chronic sitters as they are not utilized for balance and remain dormant.
Leg disorders are expected as blood is pooling in one place. Swollen ankles and Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) are a result of the fluids not moving as they should due to sitting.
Mortality has been scientifically linked to the amount of sitting one does. Those who spend 8 hours or more a day sitting are more likely to die than those who spend an hour.
A strained neck when seated is common in most people who crane it towards their computer screen or to get a closer look at a keyboard. This can disrupt proper vertebrae alignment and cause the cervical vertebrae permanent imbalances. When the neck is in a slouched position, the shoulders and back tend to follow causing a domino effect of bad posture.
Prepare yourself for an inflexible spine if your favourite hobby is taking a seat. Instead of the constant movement of the soft discs between our vertebras expanding and contracting, the sponge like discs are forced to be squashed together. When squashed, the collagen in our body (the substance that holds our whole body together) begins to harden around our ligaments and tendons, triggering greater stiffness in our movements. Did I forget to mention the risks of herniated lumbar discs. As a disc breaks down due to over-sitting, the pressure on the nerves increases, stacking on the discomfort from sitting poorly.
With all the negative effects surrounding the simple task of sitting down, do not feel like illness is inevitable. With sitting comes great responsibility. This means that as long as you educate yourself on the proper sitting techniques and practices, you can enjoy a comfy squat in your chair whenever you please (but don’t forget to stay active everyday). Kelly Starrett, doctor of physical therapy and founder of the Method of Movement and Mobility, believes that human beings have the power to fix themselves and has therefore equipped them with 3 important steps to stability when sitting.
- Mid-line Stabilization
As Starrett says: the spine comes first. Therefore, whenever in a seated postion be wary of your spinal position. The two-handed rule, coined by Starrett, is a method that helps the spine stay in a neutral position when sitting (particularly at a desk). Placing both your hands forward in-line with your sternum, resting them on a surface in front of you, such as a desk or arms on your chair corrects slouching effects that later lead to chronic ailments. Combine this technique with occasional clenching of the abdomin and buttocks and you will encourage the blood flow around the body, even when sitting for long periods of time.
Shoulders and hips are deeply affected by the way you sit. If you have these body parts dispositoned, your spine will suffer. By moving each limb from time to time it encourages blood circulation while reminding the body to stay active if it tries to rest. Fingers and toes are not discounted when using this method. Flexion of the fingers additionally combats stiffness. Not to mention that the movment of the fingers is commonly mimicked with that of the hips. You may not notice this, but when you press your fingers against a surface to stand, your hips automatically flex in order to get the body going.
Keeping your hips stabililsed is the key to a strong sitter. So when you want to shuffle around in your seat or get up to get something make sure that you rotate your body accordingly. With shoulders cocked and arms following the previously mentioned two-handed rule, you will find it easier to maneuver yourself without compromising your stable position.
Following these 3 steps when sitting can not only improve posture, but more importantly prevent those dreaded diseases and painful after effects that ultimately keep a person from reaching their athletic potential. The better you feel the more motivated your are to grab your workout gear and get in shape, so remember:
- No slouching
- Shoulders up
- Feet flat on the floor
- Arms to the side (resting on the desk)
- Support lower back
- Elbows at a 90 degree angle
Now go out there and sit like you mean it!
|Researched and written by
I would like to continue improving my knowledge in the field of media and broadcasting as that is my main passion. I particular enjoy interviewing others and interacting with professionals.