Kelly Starrett, a nationally recognized physical therapist, recently published an amazing book called, “Deskbound”. I’ve been anxiously awaiting the release of this book not only to add to my ammunition of the chronic dangers of sitting but also help my clients come up with solutions to chronic sitting and strategies for combatting the damage that chronic sitting does to your body. In his book, Kelly presents four guidelines for breaking out of the habit of sitting 10 plus hours a day. His goal was to provide guidelines that help make you more productive, more healthy, and less likely to be in pain but that also don’t require a huge paradigm shift. They are as follows:
- Reduce any optional sitting.
If you only sit when it is absolutely necessary, how much time seated could you cut out of your day? Obviously there are situations where we all have to sit, there is no getting out of sitting when travelling or sitting in some meetings, etc. But what about all of the other times you sit during the day? Could there be some possibilities where you could do something other than sit??? I always suggest that TV time is a great opportunity to get out your foam roller or lacrosse ball and do myofascial work.
- Move 2 minutes for every 30 minutes you spend sitting
Standing desks are a great option but unfortunately, not everyone can submit a request to HR for a standing desk (not to mention it can be a bit odd if you have a cubicle). If you can’t stand at work then you must commit to breaking up the sitting with movement. I’m not suggesting that you do walking lunges down your hallway at work but you do need to get up and take a lap around the office or head to the 2nd floor to use the restroom. Set a timer, download an app, or install a program on your computer that blacks out the screen every 30 minutes, its going to take some time to develop this habit. Stuck in a car or plane and can’t get up an move? At the very minimum, you should try to shift your postion every 30 minutes. (If your boss give you a hard time, show him the last blog I wrote about movement and productivity)
- Be vigilant about your posture and body mechanics when you are sitting at a desk.
I’ll spend a blog later on going into the specifics of good posture and body mechanics but just like we are adamant about good form in the gym, you should be using good form while you sit as well. If you can think about what you do at the gym as good for your body, its not a hard transition to realize that what you do in the rest of your day matters as well. Or at least it shouldn’t be but I still see clients finish a workout, plop down on the bench, and hunch over their phone texting or posting to facebook. Apply your good kettlebell swing hinge posture to your sitting posture and you’ll combat the chronic pain caused by sitting for the rest of your life.
- Do daily maintenance on your body (10-15 minutes) especially in the areas most affected by chronic sitting.
Earlier I mentioned foam rolling or using the lacrosse ball while watching tv. Now I come back to it. Many of us are guilty of thinking that if we aren’t sweating bullets then we aren’t doing the work to make our body healthier. Many of us beat our bodies up during the week then our “off days” are spent lying on the couch watching a Netflix marathon or back to back football games. Those “off days” especially are great opportunities to make friends with your myofascial release tools. This is the maintenance that allows you to continue beating yourself up the rest of the week. If you are really serious about maintaining a healthy body, you should be doing maintenance daily especially on your chronically tight or tender spots.