By Kayla B.
This just in: Sitting is death. Now I know what you’re thinking…
“Yeah, yeah I get it Kayla…Stay active, calories in, calories out, word to your mother.”
WRONG. And don’t even get me started on calories.
Back to business.
On average, how many hours a day do you think you are in the seated position? Now
the answer to this question would vary from person to person but to be fair we can all
relate to the fact that at some point in our day sitting is inevitable whether it be driving,
commuting, traveling, sitting on the toilet (for real), attending meetings, eating, writing,
typing, working, etc.
Sitting is a sedentary position, so imagine if you wake up and then sit down to eat
breakfast, then sit down and drive/commute to work, then sit down at your desk, then sit
down to eat lunch, then continue to sit at work….that is a whole lot of hours to be awake
yet be sedentary. The longer you sit, the more agitated your body becomes. Even if
after a lot sedentary day of sitting, getting in your daily workout is not going to cancel
out the tightness in your hips, back, or shoulders. Sitting for brief periods of time can
help us recover from stress and recuperate from excerise, but our bodies were not built
for such a sedentary existence.
As humans, we are meant to move. Our bodies are made up of 360 joints, 700 skeletal
muscles that enable fluid motion. Our physcial structure gives us the ability to stand up
straight even against the pull of gravity. Our blood depends on us to move around in
order to circulate properly, nerve cells benefit from movement, and our skin is elastic
which molds to our motions.
So what happens when we sit, especially for long periods of time? We will start to see
the slouching of the shoulders and back. Joints, muscles, and ligaments are what is
holding the vertebrae and disks together, and with this slouching we are putting more
strain on spinal disks, ligaments, joints, and muscles that stretch to accomodate the
backs curved postion. This hunched shape also shrinks the chest cavity while sitting,
meaning the lungs have less space to expand into when breathing, which limits the
oxygen that fills the lungs and filters into the blood, and coinsidently our brain requires
blood flow and oxygen entering the blood stream through the lungs to function. So
whilst you’re sitting at your desk working like a dog, your brain is becoming less alert,
your lungs are not able to expand, your back becomes achey and tight, the hip flexors
are shortened, and muscles, nerves, arteries and veins are compressed which leads to
numbness and reduced blood flow which leads to swelling.
Now, I know that sitting is not avoidable, however, there are steps you can take to
reduce all those negative symptoms we see with the sedentary lifestyle.
Get a Stand Up Desk. This is a great start and you can even get one as extreme as
having a treadmill underneath it!! (I suggest if you don’t have the ability to walk and talk
at the same time, like myself, stick with the non-treadmill option). They range anywhere
from $300-700 depending on the features of the desk. There are some that have an
adjustable foot rest which is nice to prop your foot on to take pressure off the back or
just to switch positions.
Cultivate positional awareness while sitting. 1) Cross an ankle over a knee and apply
pressure on the knee (remember to keep a neutral spine! Pull those shoulder blades
back and down). 2) Hug one knee into the chest then rotate towards the hip (should feel
this in the glute). 3) Internally rotate one leg and cross other leg over the top (iliotibial
band). 4) Place the back of one hand in the small of your back, put the shoulder back
(twist and work on internal rotation) 5) Toss a leg up on a table/desk pigeon style and
scoot your back leg back to sink into this hip stretch.
Remain Active. The most important thing I want everyone to take away from this is to
utilize your body to its fullest potential everyday. Walk, run, jump, swim, pull, push,
squat, skip…move like a human being.
CHALLENGE #1: For every minute you sit, you must do 1 minute of stretching.
CHALLENGE #2: Monster Quad AKA Death Stretch AKA Samson Stretch AKA Couch
Stretch….whatever you want to call it, I don’t really care, as long as you do it!! I try to
incorporate this one as much as I can in class. If you haven’t had the pleasure of
contorting your body into this stretch, here’s how it works:
Step 1: Kneel down on both knees in front of a wall (or on a couch!)
Step 2: Wedge one knee between the wall and the floor (yes, the knee goes all the way
up to the wall)
Step 3: Take the other leg and prop it up like you were lunging
Step 4: Pick your chest up, shoulders back, squeeze the glute
Step 5: Enjoy…for 90-120 seconds per side.