How Active Sitting Can Change Your Life
How Active Sitting Can Change Your Life
Helpful information for boosting creativity, increasing focus and improving your health!
Growing up, how many times were you told to “sit still”? Chances are, you heard it quite a bit, which reinforced your idea of sitting as a passive, somewhat rigid activity. Modern studies show that prolonged sitting is detrimental to health and well-being, even workplace productivity.
Compared to our ancestors, a large portion of the human population sits for longer periods of time - with very little movement. Researchers believe this is caused by both the rising number of computer-based workers and commuters navigating various forms of traffic for hours, if not days, on end. In fact, researchers believe our population’s habit of “static sitting” is contributing to a rising number of muscle, joint, nerve, and pain related problems.
The good news is, there are solutions.
Assess Your Situation
Take a moment to calculate how long you spend sitting still during a typical day. Five hours? Six? Seven? Eight? We’re discovering the human body is not particularly well adapted for long hours of sitting in restrictive or constrained postures. The bodily strain caused by traditional rigid seating configurations, like standard desk and office chairs, can cause our abdominal muscles to over-relax, overloading other areas of our body with our weight. Habitually sitting-still on traditional chairs promotes this weak posture and, if kept up, results in stiffness, pain, and atrophied core muscles. This can be detrimental to overall back health and general well-being.
It should come as no surprise that sitting-still for long periods with regularity also affects our circulation, particularly of the legs. In fact, stiffness, back pain, and circulation discomfort are just a small part of a growing avalanche of complaints which can be attributed, largely in part, to habitual static sitting. When combined with other stress factors, static sitting can contribute to a range of symptoms, including neck soreness, migraine headaches, even foot cramps and constipation.
Does this sound familiar? Does your back hurt? Are you stiff? Consider where you regularly hold stress and pain.
Active sitting, also referred to as “dynamic sitting,” is a way of seating your body on an object that encourages movement. It’s the opposite of sitting-still. Think of the old-school rocking chair as the prototype for this emerging health phenomenon. With a rocking chair, the gentle use of muscles to create and sustain a rocking motion activates various parts of the body and mind, helping to create a sense of calm. Gentle motion also lubricates joints, eases tension, and can heighten our sense of well-being. Think about it; it’s difficult to be aggro while kicking back in a rocking chair.
From physicians to physical therapists, the benefits of active sitting have been touted by a range of wellness professionals recommending active sitting products to office workers, freelancers, even children and adults born with spinal conditions, or those needing to rehabilitate injuries. And today, new active sitting products far-better than rocking chairs are emerging.
Switch Up Your Sitting Style
A wave of office furniture and adaptive seating technologies are being created that allow free movement and encourage the body to assume more progressive postures. Some of these new products even follow and conform to the unique movements and physical shapes of the people using them, enhancing the active sitting process. By enabling functional movement and preventing physical discomforts, new active sitting products help prevent the negative side-effects of sitting-still for prolonged periods of time.
Take products like Venn Chair, for example. When sitting actively on a Venn, the pelvis is angled forward, allowing your body position to activate the spine into better alignment. This promotes postural awareness. Since you’re able to move in a controlled manner using active sitting products, your mind and muscles work to maintain balance, and your posture is enhanced. This process strengthens the core muscles of the spine and abdomen and can significantly aid in preventing stiffness and pain. Bodily movement lubricates and nourishes the spinal joints and intervertebral discs, keeping skeletal joints flexible and healthy. This extra movement can even "shake out" muscle tension and stress built up in your neck, shoulders, jaw, even bowels.
People report active sitting enhances their quality of life and oftentimes makes their usual seated tasks--like working at a computer or painting masterpieces at an easel--easier to perform.
Develop Your Technique
Like any new activity, you’ll benefit from a little practice.
The easiest way to step into active sitting is to introduce an active sitting chair anywhere you regularly sit for periods of time greater than a few minutes. This can be at your dinner table, your office, your studio, or on your patio. Once you balance yourself on your active sitting chair, sit for intervals for as long as you’re comfortable. Active sitting can be really fun! People even like to have few active sitting chairs around the home or office so they can be enjoyed with coworkers and friends.
No one is expected to change from passive sitting to active sitting in one day. So, if your muscles get tired, switch positions, even try your active chair as a footrest, taking time to rest your core and focus on your legs. When taking a computer break, try some backbends across a Venn Chair. The key is habitual, gradual, natural movement. You may even find yourself stretching more regularly to lengthen muscles that are chronically tight from years of passive sitting.
Eventually, sitting actively becomes a regular habit. You may find active sitting sparks creativity. As active sitting techniques develop, people often gravitate toward supplemental bodywork like chiropractic adjustments, massages, and acupuncture to enhance their newfound practice. As active sitting increases our awareness of great posture, openness and alignment, we become more knowledgeable of ourselves and enrich our lives.
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