According to James Levine in his book ‘Get Up! Why Your Chair Is Killing You..’ the average adult sounds 50-70% of their day sitting. Oh me oh my. That’s a lot of time spent sitting on our backside.
No wonder many of our butts are somewhat… flat. They don’t DO anything. They just get sat on. All. The. Time. In the car. On the couch. At your desk. On the bus / train or whatever else transports us around our day to day lives. Even playing with your kids. And of course, hunched over our laptop or other screen as we check email or Facebook.
There’s about a bazillion (totally indisputable peer-reviewed number fact) reasons why all this sitting is not good for your body. Your butt muscles aren’t working at all, your calves and hamstrings are short, tight and underused, your psoas is under constant tension. These not-great alignment factors are even contributing to your diastasis recti. Your shoulders are drawn forward and tight, your upper back is hunched and your core has dropped off to sleep…
All the reasons we need to sit less, a lot less, are established, proven, numerous and are seriously affecting our whole body health. We know we need to walk more, squat more and find alternative ways of resting our body, changing position regularly, using the floor rather than a chair… and for those of us who often work for hours at a time at a computer and desk – we need to stand up!
I switched up my own office arrangement around 3 years ago, ditching the chair and elevating my screen and keyboard to enable me to stand as I work. You can see my set-up here, which involves nothing at all in the way of expensive high tech ergonomic gadgetry, but rather, 2 wooden boxes on my desk. One under my keyboard, and one (turned on its side so its higher) under my screen. And a lack of chair. Ta da! Standing workstation! I did go so far as painting my wooden boxes white to match the decor… but that really was a crafty or technical as it got.
It felt really really weird, for… about 2 days. And ever since then it’s just the way I work. No more aching shoulders or back, no more stiffness, and my core, butt (actually my whole body, cos thats the way cores and butts work) is actually awake and switched on most of the day.
I’ve also discovered some cool movement bonuses to not having a chair in my office:
I stretch and I move. When we’re sat in a chair, we tend to stay in a very fixed position, even when that position is causing or exacerbating tension. We type, read or watch our screens without moving at all. But when I’m standing at my desk I find I constantly shift position, I stretch, take regular short breaks just to move around, stand on one leg, roll my massage balls under my feet. If I’m on a Skype call, watching a video or listening to a podcast – none of which require me to type, but simply to be present and listening, I might hang from the beams, stand on my bosu, pop a resistance loop around my ankles for some hamstring and hip work, stand on a yoga block for balance and hip strengthening… you get the idea.
I didn’t really set out to do all that, but gradually as I got used to standing there I found myself just… moving.
I don’t ALWAYS want to stand the whole time, sometimes I have a lot of writing to do, or want to simply listen to a lecture or podcast – so I’m on the floor with various arrangements of yoga bolsters or cushions… Again, when we sit on the floor, we tend to change position regularly. All of which keeps my joints moving, my cells awake and my blood flowing to limbs as well as brain to keep me focussed. Even the whole-body process of getting down on the floor and back up again (extra points for getting up and down from the floor without using your hands) – all of this is infinitely healthier and better for us than sitting on chair. There are so many ways of ‘sitting’ when you’re on the floor – see how many you can come up with and set your kids a challenge for who can come up with the most ways to sit on the floor.
Kick off your shoes, put some different textures under your feet, lift and spread your toes… theres so many ways of multi-tasking alignment enhancing, body strengthening movements as you catch up on email. So lose the chair and elevate your screen… and get up!