The Sitting Session

When you arrive this week your chair will be waiting, which is good news, because it  means we start with our calves on the chair for a lovely psoas release. Agggggh, bliss. It also means a bit of a chat about sitting, how we can do it better and how we can do it less. 

We tend to sit way more than is good for us. It is a wake-up call kind of a fact that furniture manufacturers make chairs to fit modern rounded posture. Especially cars it seems. I am yet to see a car that doesn't have a bucket seat (you know that kind of hollowed out seat that seems to insist that you round your back and let your head come forward). 

The opposite of sitting too much is not standing all of the time either. What we need, and what the cells of our bodies crave, is a lot more natural movement. That's what this blog is really all about, but it is a huge topic. So each week we just tease it apart a little bit more. If you can't wait, then welcome to my world! and read Move Your DNA by Katy Bowman or get on her website and read her free blog (I recommend the talking book of Move Your DNA - it can be a lot more rewarding absorbing the information when you are out there moving).

When we do anything for prolonged periods our body tries to minimise the amount of effort involved in performing that task. It is a kind of inbuilt efficiency system - so after a long period of sitting our tissues think we are still there - even after we get up. Sitting puts a lot of pressure on your hamstrings and keeps your knees bent, which tightens your hamstrings and quads and lessens their sensitivity to the tension patterns being created (we don't notice the pressure or tension, but we do notice the resulting pain). It also encourages forward head, a rounded back and tightening in the neck, shoulders, spine, chest, abdomen, legs and feet. I could have just said 'whole body' but I wanted to emphasise the point! (The rounded position created by sitting in chairs often includes your arms out in front of you and is called flexion, or in Somatics you might have heard me talk about your Red Light Reflex.) 

I'm not saying flexion is the bad guy. It is just that we spend too much time there. The body wants all of its muscles to move regularly through full ranges of motion. Whole body movement is at the heart of optimal cell regeneration, circulation, oxygenation and movement function.

So our mission is to become more aware of our habits and find ways to sit less, move more and restore muscle function. Here are some of the ways I've changed my world to do just that:

My standing desk is courtesy of Ebay and some planks of wood to get everything to the right height. The total cost was about $80 but you could do it for free by taking a laptop to the kitchen bench. Remember that just standing for hours is not the answer either. It's a good idea to be moving for around 5 minutes of every 30. Standing is a great reminder of this - if your legs are getting tired, time to move! Also if you are going to stand, stand with great alignment. Feet straight ahead, hip distance apart - ears stacked over shoulders, over hips, over ankles. Sometimes I put a block between my thighs to help remind me. Mmm, is that a 1/2 dome I spy that lady utilising while working?

 Mel's Standing Desk -  please note the 1/2 dome strategically placed. Here I can pelvic list, toe stretch, reach and release, thoracic stretch - do my arm and neck releases, and the list goes on.

Mel's Standing Desk -  please note the 1/2 dome strategically placed. Here I can pelvic list, toe stretch, reach and release, thoracic stretch - do my arm and neck releases, and the list goes on.

I've also modified my car alignment and it feels great. When I am in someone else's car and I sit in 'the bucket' I can feel it in my body straight away. Our tissues quickly get used to things, and not always in a good way.

 Allegonda kindly offered to sit in my car so I could show you how to fill up the bucket (hollow) in your car seat. First lift the back of the seat upright so that you can sit straight, then roll up a towel or find an appropriate height pillow or book so that you can sit with your hips and back relaxed, your pelvis can then tilt forward rather than rolling back under you. Make sure your legs are relaxed, and your left foot can be gently placed on the rest provided.

Allegonda kindly offered to sit in my car so I could show you how to fill up the bucket (hollow) in your car seat. First lift the back of the seat upright so that you can sit straight, then roll up a towel or find an appropriate height pillow or book so that you can sit with your hips and back relaxed, your pelvis can then tilt forward rather than rolling back under you. Make sure your legs are relaxed, and your left foot can be gently placed on the rest provided.

Your Mission For This Week Is To Move More - and here is the link to the App you can download to remind you to do just that. Get up and walk around for 3 minutes for every 30 minutes you are sitting. For the average 8 hour work day that's 48 more minutes of moving.

Home Program Addition: Any time you sit this week remember to Head Ramp back, and unless you are driving you can do your Head Hang neck stretch as well. So now you have on your regular daily rotation (30 seconds to a minute, at least twice a day):

  • Standing Hamstring Release (as often as you think about it)
  • Calf Stretch
  • Toe Stretch
  • Strap Stretch
  • Head Ramp and Head Hang neck release
 Head Ramp: Slide your head back in line with your shoulders to stack your ears over your shoulders. Don't tip head, but keep eyes level.

Head Ramp: Slide your head back in line with your shoulders to stack your ears over your shoulders. Don't tip head, but keep eyes level.