How much do you sit? and – Why it’s killing you.


Ha! How’s that for a typical, scare-you-into-reading-more headline? We sure see a lot of those nowadays don’t we? The truth is: if sitting too much doesn’t directly put you in an early grave, then it will only crush your quality of life with the musculo-skeletal dysfunction that it breeds. This is an Ohh-sooo complex and interesting topic which will be covered in further detail through future posts.

A few BIG reasons why sitting is a drain on your soul:

Your butt. Is not. Designed. FOR SITTING ON!

Instead, its home to some of the largest, most powerful muscles in your body! Designed to Lift – JUMP – run – stand – cycle – ski – skate – SPRINT – step – stand – and LOOK BEAUTIFUL! When these muscles get sat on, they become inhibited*, starved of fresh blood, and stuffed up with all the bad stuff (lymph and deoxygenated blood)

Your PELVIS  is your core.

Forget all that nonsense about 6-pack abs, -ripped this-   -flat that-  ..forget it.  If  you can’t exercise proper stability and control position through your pelvis and spine*, then you might as well be trying building a pyramid upside-down! The position of this structure, has a direct influence on the structures above, and below it, as well as the ability of those structures to create efficient and powerful movement!
Movement is required for HEALTH.
If sitting for long periods involves no functional movement, and it actually deteriorates your ability to move once you finally stand up, then well, you get it.. The saddest part about this is that we REALLY WANT TO MOVE! Many of us obligatory desk-jockeys are also athletes, adventurers, explorers, and all-kind of weekend warriors! We know it’s good for us to move. We know that. But sometimes that weekend 5k leaves you wondering “What the -bleep- is wrong with my knee?” -or- “-bleep- my shoulders are tight..” after your leisurely surf session. Could it be that this has something to do with the way you spend 40 -80 hours per work week sitting in a horrible position?
Ok.. Enough ranting and preaching the horrors of 90-degrees-of-hip-flexion-and-crushing-your-prime-movers. You guys get it. You’re smart. That’s why you are reading this. You understand this is a problem.. The good news is that there IS a sloution, and in my particular case, it happened to be a ridiculuosly easy (and cheap) one:
Here’s the deal:
   My “desk” (if you can even call it that) consisted of a portable table with the folding legs, like one you’d see loaded with crap at a garage sale. The thing was way too high, and my chair was way too low. Also, the table had no slope at all, which makes NO sense to me. (in my perfect world, every desk would slope at least a couple of degrees toward the poor soul trapped at it’s mercy) So my first step was to cut a few inches off the front legs of the Table-desk to achieve the desired slope. This helped with the height, but when standing it put my wrists in an over-extended position.
..but there was a problem…
                                                            I was still sitting down!!!
The pioneering of stand-sit-stand technology continued to morph and evolve until one day I said:  “Hey I think I’m gonna grab that empty paper box, flip it upside-down, and stand at this -bleep-n desk.”  EUREKA!!
Now I’m able to alternate standing and sitting positions when I’m stuck doing desk work! Ideally with just socks, bare feet, or flat, minimalist style shoes. The benefits or this include, but are not limited to:
  • Better strength and function from my glutes and hamstrings
  • More awareness of my body overall
  • Increased calorie consumption (for fat loss or weight loss goals)
  • Better foot and lower leg mechanics (with proper standing position)
  • Increased range of motion in hip flexors (Super-crucial for any load bearing activity, especially running, double-especially running marathons)
  • Better neck and head position (less discomfort, jaw-clenching, headaches)
  • Better breathing mechanics (more diaphragm, less chest-breathing)
  • Better shoulder position (scapulae lower and more retracted)
  • Less LOW BACK PAIN! (increased proprioception* and better activation of lumbar spine stabilizers, as well as less tightness in the ilipsoas* pulling on your L-spine)
  • Better pelvic-floor function and decreased pressure on sex organs, erectile tissue in men, and less urinary or end-digestive issues.
  • Decreased level of perceived stress.

Of course, there is more to this concept than I can possibly go over in one blog post. The specifics of proper postural alignment will dictate the sustainability of this new work position, and those same specifics are best taught individually by a coach such as myself, after proper assessment and evaluation. That being said, here are some general guidlines to help you stand up-RIGHT!

  • Big toes touch together, heels 1-3″ apart
  • Weight distributed evenly across forefoots and heels – both front-to-back and side-side.
  • Knees not locked, knee-caps point straight ahead
  • Squeeze glutes only enough to keep hips forward-neutral. Don’t rotate your thigh-bones externally too much.
  • Belly-button draws in slightly toward spine, but no need to make it a flex-fest.
  • Shoulder-blades pull back and down (likely will require some stretching of shoulders, chest and neck if this will remain sustainable.)
  • Chin pulls in toward the neck, head retracts slightly
  • Tongue rests on the roof of your mouth, and jaw remains relaxed with 2-3mm of space between top teeth, and bottom teeth.
  • Head remains fairly level, or tilted forward slightly.

So, that is a lot to take in! It’s also a lot more challenging than it sounds. This will take some serious practice, but it’s well-worth it. Work on one thing at a time, and use this technique as a self-assessment to see what areas of your body are struggling against gravity.

Take control of your posture, and throw your chair out the window!

Thanks, and let me know how it works!

PS. since making this video, i’ve modified my standing box-desk so it actually slopes away from me a few degrees, which puts my wrists in a wonderfully-neutral and healthy position.
And I’ve adopted a similar setup for my home office (which consists of another modified box on a crappy piece of furniture with no chair) and I’m loving it!   :]