Sitting is the New Smoking
According to a Harris poll conducted by the America On the Move Foundation Americans spend nearly eight hours a day sitting (and another four hours watching TV and playing computer games). Hong Kong-ers are not much different, I’m sure. The internet abounds with tips for how you should sit at your desk, what height your computer should be and which chairs are most appropriate. Why so many?
It seems that the jury is out on what constitutes healthy posture; in fact, many popular guidelines for “good posture” may just be plain wrong.
"It's about relaxing and letting all the bones just live where they were meant to be, your kind of primal architecture," says Esther Gokhale of the Gokhale Method. Learning to reclaim that primal architecture is what Gokhale teaches her clients.
"The basic idea is as you sit, you could be enjoying a gentle traction in your spine," says Gokhale. This is extremely important for you if you are spending lots of time sitting – at the office, in meetings, travelling, most of your day is spent sitting! It’s important to learn how to sit in the right way, in a sustainable way that is good for your body, and allows you to focus on the task at hand - whether it is typing away at your computer or negotiating an important deal with a client!
Here’s how Gokhale suggest that you sit:
OPTION 1: Traction sitting
- Wiggle your bottom to the very back crease of your chair and send your bottom behind you.
- Make fists with your hands and place them at your lowest ribs. Lean up and forwards over them.
- In this curled over position bring your mid-back into contact with the back of your chair and then “traction your spine back upright
- Roll your shoulders back one at a time and lengthen the crown of your head lightly upwards up.
OPTION 2: Stack sitting (For those of you who can’t reach your keyboard using Option 1)
- Place your sitting bones on the very edge of the chair put your “butt behind”. Your spine should look like the letter J from the side and not like a C or an S
- Check to make sure your lower legs are not too far forwards of your knees or you’re likely to slump back.
In between simply “sitting” you may want to try some of these simple relaxation tricks.
NODDING YOUR HEAD
- Bring your fingers to just under the bony bits behind your ears and try nodding your head gently, rocking it from the very top of your neck
- Turn your head 1/3 of the way to your right and nod, centre and nod, 1/3 of the way to your left and nod, centre and nod
- TIP: When you nod, imagine that you have a pencil running from one ear to the other and roll your head around the “Pencil”…..no more than an eighth of an inch.
- Lean forwards in your chair and grasp the opposite shoulder blade with one hand as you dangle the other arm down to the floor and, first, wiggle fingers then draw circles inwards and then outwards. Feel the upper, inner corner of your shoulder blade slide around and down.
- Come back up and repeat on the other side
- Draw Figure 8’s if you like
- Bring your palms together in front of your chest and press them together. Aim to widen your pelvis as you press together.
- Draw circles in both directions ( like tracing the face of clock in front of you)
- With your arms out to the side, wiggle the ends of your fingers thinking of them wiggling up towards the back of your wrists
- Bring your arms out to the side and up overhead. Feel your shoulder-blades act as a counterweight and the corners of your shoulder blades slide out and down.
- Lace your hands together and bring them behind your neck, elbows pointing straight out and tip your body a little bit backwards. Feel the length you can get in your abdominal muscles and the lower arc of your ribcage.
Come back, hands down.
- Bend your elbows keeping them in at your sides
- Rotate your palms towards and away from your body
Add a gentle nod of your head if you like, turn it right and left
- Bring your fingers to the crease in your hip joints and hinge forwards so that you feel the crease deepen. Try reaching your hips back. Have your sitting bones reach towards the back of the chair
- Sit back up as per Ms Gokhale’s instructions.