It’s time to finally start writing my first blog post. I have all these ideas in my head. Should I write about lifting mechanics as it relates to mommyhood or universally answer one of the questions about diastasis recti that I find in my inbox every day or should I write about my journey so far as a student of the Restorative Exercise Institute or should I write about walking with my children or should I maybe write about the terrible effect sitting has on our health?
I was mulling this over on Monday while washing the kitchen floor for the 73rd time that day. In between 1001 times of hearing the word ‚mommy‘ I even had a minute to read one article in Saturday’s paper. It happened to be an article about the growing body of research that shows that sitting is killing us softly. I liked it because the author suggested that chairs should be made really, really uncomfortable so we spend less time sitting in them. I like extreme measures. I’m known to tell clients to stop hanging out in their LazyBoys (how is it spelled again?) or, better, to throw out their couches. One was able to convince her husband to not buy a second couch to keep more room for stretching and hanging out on the floor. These are the kind of client stories I like :)
Anyway, my decision was made. My first blog post would be about the first thing I tell anyone who wants to listen: what terrible things sitting on chairs does to our bodies. Just in more detail.
Our body has over 600 muscles. We are supposed to use all of these muscles by means of moving our bodies. We are alive because our heart is pumping oxygen-rich blood through our arteries. Imagine your arteries and venes like a highway that runs through your torso and limbs. But our body is much more interesting than that: there are side roads branching off the highway, and more streets branching off those roads and finally little alleys – the capillaries - at the end of those roads. The heart doesn’t pump the blood all the way there. This is where the muscles have to come in. They compress the blood vessels and thereby direct some blood away from the highway so that it can supply ALL cells in our body.
Basically, the more muscle is innervated (stimulated), the more blood cells can branch off into the side roads of our circulatory system and finally into the little capillaries. The blood cells carry waste products through the walls of the capillaries into the lanes of our lymph system. The lymph fluid carries the blood cells with the waste products straight to the lymph nodes via these lymph lanes. There, white blood cells are being formed and the fluid is treated for any bacteria and then taken back via the capillaries into our blood vessels.
Ok, so what does that have to do with sitting? Well, we don’t exactly use many muscles when we sit.
Our major lymph nodes are located behind the knee and deep in the groin, abdomen, chest, neck and arm pits. When we sit on our computers or in the car, our knees and hips are bent. That means these major muscles are kept in a shortened, non-innervated position. Our abdominal muscles are not exactly on overdrive either. Our breathing isn’t optimal in any case. We pull our necks forward like we are turkeys and there is no movement in our arms or shoulders either. And while we work and stress away and think of our next break which we’ll be spending on just another sitting device, the muscles and lymph nodes in all these body parts can’t do their job. Non-working muscles, non-working lymph nodes, no clean blood, no defense for disease. Sitting is defenitely not healthy!
So, since I’m reaching my word count and promised myself to only write kind-of short posts, I get to the WHAT TO DO part.
- When you must sit, sit straight and breathe freely.
- Start to include some sitting on the floor, ideally on some pillows or a yoga block to get your spine more into its neutral curve and therefore into a better, healthier place
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- when sitting for long time is part of your work day, stand up every once in a while, e.g. when talking on the phone and find reasons to walk around the office.
- Determine a place in your neighbourhood that is 1km away and where you frequently drive to and start walking there.
- Stop watching TV in the LazyBoy and hang out on the floor instea
- Do this sitting quiz to determine how much much time a day you really spend sitting