Are your back and neck sore? On Mercola.com, Dr. Joseph Mercola explains the research of Kelly Starrett, Ph.D., who has found solutions for one basic adaptation error most Americans are making every day—not moving enough. Mercola discussed Starrett’s research in November 2016, writing:
Kelly Starrett, who has a Ph.D. in physical therapy, is the author of “Deskbound: Standing Up to a Sitting World.” It’s a real eye-opener, and has helped me address some of my own movement challenges.
I read about 150 books a year and last year the best book I read was “The Metabolic Theory of Cancer.” This year I would have to give that honor to Kelly’s book. I have read many books on posture and movement, but his was the best.
If you have a desk job, this book is a veritable gold mine of helpful guidance that can improve your health and well-being. Kelly is one of the leaders in the CrossFit movement and stresses the importance of proper body mechanics, both in and outside the gym.
His first book, “Becoming a Supple Leopard,” addresses biomechanical inadequacies that might increase your risk of injury.
“[A]s I was addressing football teams and soldiers, we were seeing the same sequel of problems — a lot of forward [leaning] head or neck, stiff upper back, and inability to put the arms over the head … lower back dysfunction, short hips and over striding,” Kelly says.
“What we realized [is that] most were engaged in an activity that went against physiology … [W]hat’s happening today, because of the changing environment, we’re sitting a lot more. We have a lot more technology … We commute more.
We’re making this very basic adaptation error, and that is we’re not moving enough. What’s interesting about the sitting versus standing conversation is it’s really the wrong conversation. The right conversation is moving versus not moving …
When we stand up, we [upregulate] the whole physical being. That really ends up being the most important conversations — bringing the consciousness to the fact that, as modern humans, we may not be able to move the way we were designed.”
Optional Versus Non-Optional Sitting
In “Deskbound,” Kelly quotes research from Dr. James Levine showing that for every hour you sit down, your life expectancy decreases by two hours. For comparison, every cigarette smoked reduces life expectancy by 11 minutes.
That means sitting down is far more hazardous to your health than smoking — a shocking revelation for most, I’m sure.
However, Kelly notes that you cannot simply replace sitting with standing. Your body was designed for full range of motion, and simply standing does not optimize your physiology either. Also, sitting CAN be beneficial, when done right. In other words, there’s a skill to sitting in a way that’s beneficial to health.
“Let’s just clean up our sitting hygiene,” he says. “Look at your sitting time, and divide your life into optional sitting and non-optional sitting …
You may have to sit in a meeting or sit in your car — those things are non-optional. But the rest of it, you can really get a big upregulation and function just by ditching that optional sitting.”
Blocking Unwanted Behavior
In the video, you see Kelly sitting down. It appears as though he’s sitting on a couch, but this is actually an optical illusion. He’s sitting on the floor, and that is one of the strategies he presents in his book.
It’s not uncommon for people to sit for 13 hours a day, and the challenge is to replace sitting with movement, not simply standing.
“If anyone has ever had a job or they’ve had to stand for long periods of time, statically, it is brutal … Go to your local yoga class and ask for a good dose of tadasana; standing pose, standing meditation, and you’ll last two or three minutes before you start to burn and fatigue …
It takes skill in standing, but how do we create an environment that reflects the physiology instead of making the physiology of the body conform to the environment?
When we address or teach about strength and conditioning, or about behaviors or patterns, we try to make what we call blocked behaviors, blocked patterns, where you don’t have to make a decision; the decision is made for you.
For example, when I come back after lunch and there’s no chair. Instead I go up to my standing moving station at my desk. I’m automatically going to do the right thing. I don’t have to make a decision about raising my desk or getting out of the chair …
[O]ne of the nice pieces about creating a movement-rich environment is that you automatically get these contextual signals and cues that say ‘I need to sit’ or ‘I need to work.’
So I’m sitting at a table cross-legged. What that does is it starts to give me more movement options. Now I’m taking my hips to a more full-range of motion, and it’s a break from the standing that I was doing earlier.”
The Sitting-Rising Test Predicts Mortality Risk
There’s a well-validated study showing that your ability to rise off the floor from a seated position can predict your risk for early mortality. (See video above for a demonstration.) If you have to use both hands and knees, or use something to help you get up off the floor, chances are you may be weak or have poor range of motion.
Historically, humans have sat on the ground. We’re supposed to be able to sit cross legged. We’re supposed to be able to work on the ground. By setting up your environment to facilitate sitting on the floor or an exercise ball rather than a chair, your working hours can be more conducive to improving health and well-being.
Read more here.
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