It’s true that a lack of movement creates achy muscles and joints. But did you ever think that it was dangerous not to move? With all of this work from home—Zoom meetings, webinars, on-line classes, on-line shopping—our lives are being digitally dominated. And we are now sitting more than ever before.
Dr. James Levine, Director of the Mayo Clinic at ASU says, “Sitting is more dangerous than smoking, kills more people than HIV, and is more treacherous than parachuting.”
Body expert and author Eric Jensen echoes the sentiment: “The typical seated office worker has more musculoskeletal injuries than any other industry sector worker, including construction, metal industry, and transportation workers.”
Both Dr. Levine and Mr. Jensen make some ominous statements here, but are they right?
When asked what surprised him the most about humanity, the Dalai Lama answered:
“Man… Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health.”
THE SCIENCE BEHIND IT
Have you ever wondered how you can wake up in the middle of the night and know what position you are in without having to turn the light on to check?
Before any movement takes place, the brain will “read” the present posture via the afferent (ingoing) nervous system. The constant information sent to the brain from nerve receptors around joints (ligaments, tendons and muscles) makes this possible. This is also why you can scratch your nose in the dark without poking yourself in the eye. The nerve receptors continuously feed the brain with necessary information regarding our position or posture, among many other things. If a muscle or even a small part of a muscle is dysfunctional, it will send the wrong message, which will affect our movement and stabilization. This is important because joints out of their ideal alignment are not sending correct messages to the brain.
The more we can keep our joints in a position of centration or ideal alignment and properly stabilized, the stronger and healthier we will be. This is how we can mitigate the effects of sitting.
SO, WHAT DO WE DO ABOUT IT?Stay in alignment
Sitting correctly and keeping our joints aligned is one way to reduce the risk of movement dysfunction and pain. We want to send messages of stability and strength rather than of instability and weakness. This is done through positioning (centration) and stabilization.
Start at the core
It is so important to keep your core engaged while sitting and during normal functional movement tasks. Why?
Develop a routine that works for you
I spend a lot of time on ye olde computer, pecking away during the day. I stand and stretch every 15 minutes and every 30 minutes: I’ll hold a 1-minute plank and use the Muscle Blaster on my feet, hamstrings, side obliques, low back and rotator cuff/pec for 20 seconds per area. This global and local activation promotes centration so my brain and my body can communicate, and I can stay strong, balanced and healthy.