The Office Slump
OK, so we all don’t look that bad (or cute) sitting in the office. But isn’t sitting pretty different from moving? Of course it is–and this is one of the great problems in sitting. The side effects of how we sit and and the amount of sitting that many of us at the office do is very detrimental to our health.
Problems with Sitting
First of all we are sitting too much and moving too little. So one way to deal with this problem is to change positions frequently and go take a break. (There is an excellent video on how to sit that was posted in the past. We will not cover that topic here.)
Also sitting often in a slumped position changes our breathing options. We breathe in a more shallow and irregular manner. We don’t energize our system with proper deep diaphragmatic breathing like we would if we were moving more.
Sitting in a chair all day or a good number of hours shortens our joints and surrounding tissues so that our body starts to resemble this fairly bent or flexed posture.
Most important here is that our nervous system adapts to this static posture and we actually loose options to move and feel. This effect bores through many more systems than just the so called musculoskeletal system.
Sounds terrible, yet why don’t we change our behavior? We naturally resist change. We really operate and behave based on habits. Changing habits is not easy as we all know. Without a good reason and without a practice–we just will continue in our habit.
There is nothing another person can do for us. We have to make our own assessment of ourselves. Ask ourselves if we want something different. If we do, then discover a deeper reason for change and then start a practice that supports these differences.
Office 5 Exercise
You will feel better and be more alert at work if you body, breath and mind are doing their full job.
Here is a video that shows you several simple exercises you can do without leaving your chair. How easy is that!
Explanation of Some of the Exercises
Are you still sitting while reading–I’m sure sitting while writing. How long has it been since we changed our position and took a break.
These movements are very effective in creating the difference our system needs to reset itself and receive the benefits of movement (and decrease the negative sitting effects). Feel free to modify them
- The first movement stretches the spine like a cat. It uses deeper breathing as a focus that follows or leads the movement. This forward and backward arching of the spine is a primary direction that is strongly embedded in the nervous system. By altering in a rhythmical way this powerful direction, you will strongly turn up the nervous system while you counteract the forward posturing from sitting.
- The second exercise opens up our hips–which is so important in establishing a proper sitting foundation. These split leg movements done on the chair are very accessible to all (unless there are arm rests, oh well). The extension and stretching of the rear hip is very helpful to balance out the prolonged hip flexion that is required by sitting.
- The third is simple a progression of the second. You add a bowing of the body to the side. This sideways direction is quite stimulating as we are often just stuck in a forward direction in sitting. If you again work with the breath as you expand the lateral/side wall of the chest, you will also expand the breath. Remember deeper breathing is better breathing.
- The fourth exercise uses twisting. Now we all have heard of the dangers of twisting the spine while it is bent and flexed. This is very true in overstretching of the lower back or lumbar spine. Here the split leg position will often counter rotate the pelvis and you should try to work on twisting from the chest and not the waist.
- The last exercise is just fun. If you do it so that you keep your chest (and weight) over your hands and bend your elbow a bit, it will really exercise your trunk and upper body. In sitting we don’t do anything to express the upper bodies system–keypading and mousing do not count : o )
Some times you will find yourself just stretching in you chair. Great idea. Try just turning in your chair if doesn’t have arm rests and go into that split leg position.
I’m sure you can figure out other variations you could do as well.
Key point here is to do. So right now try out these movements and see if you don’t feel better.