For nearly 200,000 years, Homo sapiens spent the majority of their time on the move. If they wanted something to eat, they had to hunt for it or dig it up out the ground. If they wanted to travel, they had to get there by foot.
That sort of movement sounds exhausting to us now.
BREAKING NEWS: OUR BODIES ARE BUILT FOR MOVEMENT AND MOVEMENT KEEPS OUR BODIES HEALTHY.
In a study done in 2014 at Arizona State University it was reported that Americans today spend an average of 13 hours a day sitting.
When we sit for long periods the muscles in our lower body literally turn off and become inactive. We stop utilizing critical muscles and connective tissue that stabilize the trunk and the spine. All sorts of problems result from this compromised body function. Things like carpel tunnel, neck and back issues and pelvic floor dysfunction.
The Centers of Disease Control reports that we are spending 75 cents of every health care dollar on chronic conditions linked to sedentary behavior, like obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. According to the National Institutes of Health, back pain affects 8 of 10 people in their lifetime, and it is the leading cause of disability world wide. In the United States we spend almost 1 billion treating back pain and 20 billion in employer cost treating carpel tunnel annually.
Your body has a canny way of adapting to poor positions. If you sit and allow your back to round forward or arch backward your tissues and joints will sort of cast around that posture. This will make it increasingly difficult for you to get into better positions later.
Often times I hear people saying exercise is the cure. Unfortunately, they are wrong.
Let's walk through this together. If you take 10,000 steps a day (the usual recommendation all the fitness tracking active people use) which is 70,000 thousand steps in a week. In 10 years that is 36 million steps. Imagine for a moment that every one of those steps were taken with poor mechanics. Let's say you took every one of those steps walking like a duck, or your arch collapses. The body can handle a great deal of stress but eventually the system breaks down.
You can't outwork bad habits.
How do we fix this? Physical therapist and best selling author Dr. Kelly Starrett is someone whom I look up to and he laid out some neat bullet points in his most recent book, "Deskbound." He has been studying this phenomenon for over 20 years and here are some of the great points he made in his book.
1. Reduce optional sitting in your life.
Switch to a standing desk if you can. Even if you work in a cubicle equipped with a built in desk you can throw a couple boxes on top of the desk. If this is not an option then try ways to stand rather than sit during leisure time. Instead of watching tv on the couch, watch it on the floor and stretch while you catch up on your favorite shows.
2. For every 30 minutes that you are desk bound, move for at least 2 minutes.
Even if it is just a stroll around the office. Moving will help.
3. Prioritize position and mechanics whenever you can.
You were not a great driver the first time you got behind the wheel. It took practice. We have to look at proper position as good nutrition for the body.
4. Perform 10-15 minutes of daily maintenance on your body.
Like brushing your teeth, self maintenance will be more effective if you commit to a daily practice. Your muscles didn't get tight overnight. It took years of moving incorrectly and ignoring your tissue restrictions that leave you feeling like a complete mess.
You may need to relearn how to stand, how to sit and walk properly again. There is a positive upside to this work you are going to put in. Imagine being pain free and being able to move again like when you were a child. What will your life look like with no pain?
We must stand up to a sitting world.