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Sitting Blog
Matt Hardy

Sitting, the rules have changed

Welcome to (or back) to my blog. This is the first in what will be roughly a fortnightly post bringing useful hints and tips to reduce the risk of problems starting with the body.

The first thing I thought I’d drop you a quick note about was sitting.

Let’s face it, it’s something we all do, something lots of us have to do for work and something that contributes to a lot of problems with the body.

So here’s the headlines…

What we used to think was important with sitting:

Posture

Desk height

Chair height

Chair depth

Contracting our core to stabilise our back

The shape and size of a mouse

Wrist supports

I’ll not keep going on you get the idea…

What we now know is important with sitting

Moving regularly (try to change position every 15-20 mins)

Sounds simple right? Well, that’s because it can be.

If we go way back and think about how the human body evolved, we evolved to move large distances on 2 legs in relatively hot climates. Thats why we aren’t particularly furry, we have thin wrists and ankles to disperse heat and we are able to move our body and keep our head still. Something which other great apes aren’t able to do.

We also have natural curves of our spine that are efficient at supporting standing and walking, and literally all of our systems work better when we walk regularly. For example, the only main stay of NICE guidelines for back pain is walking!

So when someone decided to invent the chair all of our evolutionary history needed to change. The problem is this takes thousands if not 10’s of thousands of years to evolve. Fundamentally we’re not currently designed to sit for long periods.

Think about this, in ancient civilisations who sat? The chief, queen, pharaoh, king etc. What did everyone else do? Stood or squatted.

In a modern world we get sat on a chair when we get to school and we stay there in some cases for the rest of our lives. Now I don’t want to make it out that sitting is the death of us, because it isn’t. Look at the world of sport, the human body is amazing at adapting to all sorts of different events and sitting is no different.

If a footballer played football 16 hours a day, 7 days a week would you expect them to have some problems? Yes, right?

So let’s think about sitting like that. The old school mantra of desk set ups, swanky chairs and expensive mice are not supported by great evidence and anecdotally it makes no difference to the number of people I see in my clinic room with sitting related pain and its like telling my footballer above to wear different boots. Will have a small effect? Probably, will it reduce their risk of injury long term? Nope

I want you to think about breaking up and resting from sitting like we’d advise our footballer.

Here’s what to do. Set a timer on your phone, smart watch or laptop for every 15 mins. When it goes off, stand up, reach for the ceiling, march 10 steps on the spot and sit back down again. If you’re lucky to have a supportive employer or are self employed and budget allows, get a desk that allows you to stand for some of the time. Not all the time, standing still for long periods isn’t ideal either.

Move as much as you can. Here’s some cheesy sayings that will stick in your mind

“Your best posture is your next posture”

“Motion is Lotion”

To conclude

  1. Don’t worry about your posture, all posture is good if you’re in it for a short period of time, all posture is bad if your in it for a long period of time
  2. Move more often
  3. Take breaks from your desk to walk
  4. Use an outside stimulus like an alarm or an annoying colleague to remind you to move
  5. The human body is designed to move not be still, its evolution and you can’t change it

Thanks as always for reading this.
If you do have an ache or a pain please book in for a 1-1 session using this link, I’d love to help

Matt