Thursday, August 2, 2012

Don't Fill the Container!

Okay, I know I always preach on the horrors of sitting and being static, but I think I need to clarify lest you should think that I am an extremist. We were actually made to sit. -Gasp!- I know, it was actually hard for me to type that sentence out. But marinate on what I'm about to tell you. 

We really were made to sit - for short periods of time, on the ground, or on rocks or other "natural" things. We were made to learn how to move from the ground up. The ground is where all the developmental "magic" happens. It is where we grow and nourish both our brains and bodies. It is also where we rest, when we need to. 

Sitting, or resting, is a natural thing. Watch a child sit on the floor. They look comfortable, they have good posture, and they are still capable of moving in any direction at a moments notice. When a child sits on the ground, or floor, a child is still using his muscles. 

Now, think about how we sit in chairs. We don't really "sit" in chairs, we melt into them. We fill them. In the same way that liquids take on the shape of their containers, we too take on the shape of our chairs. We do not use our postural muscles when we sit in chairs - at least most of us don't. Not only that, we are prone to sit in chairs for hours. When is the last time you saw a child sit on the floor for hours without setting off on an adventure? Children don't sit criss-cross applesauce for hours unless they are made to. Yes, schools may actually be the lead cause to our movement demise. That is where our perfect little bodies are made to learn to sit motionless for hours - in a chair. 

Anyway, we actually fill the containers (chairs) that we sit in. We relax, or slouch. We rely on our fascia instead of our bones and muscles. In a sense, we are actually filling two containers at one time, our fascia and our chairs. 

Are you still with me? Our fascia is just meant to help keep us together and give us a little support. It is not intended to be our main structural support. When we melt into a chair for hours, we let our fascia become our main structural support system, at least it takes on a much larger role than it is meant to. With this new demand placed on our fascia and not our bones and muscles, the fascia decides to grow thicker to help hold our newly chosen lazy postures. After all, we are not using our postural muscles or bones effectively, so our body decides to reinforce the support system that is being used the most. 

This is one of the reasons sitting in chairs for long periods of time, for many years is a negative thing. Our bodies were meant to move. Even at rest in a sitting position, our muscles and bones are still meant to be used effectively. There is no container to fill when a child sits on the floor. If the child sits long enough and gets uncomfortable, or bored, or sees something shiny across the room, he moves. And even while sitting at rest, the child is still using his postural muscles - his body is still engaged. 

If you have to sit for hours a day. Use your bones and muscles and sit up "strong." Don't fill your container. If you muscles fatigue from sitting well, get up and move around. Take frequent walk breaks. Take frequent "marching" or cross-crawl breaks. Move around. Don't rely on your fascia to keep you in the chair. Regain your body. 

Oh, and spend more time playing around on the floor. It was good for you once and it is good for you now.

Have a great weekend!

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