Tag Archives | Sitting

Feet don’t fail me now – National Foot Month

FeetFeet go mostly unnoticed… until summer when sandals and nail polish come out in full force.  There are some who show off their feet and some who consistently hide them. 

It’s National Foot Health Awareness Month and feet problems are all over the internet, from bunions to hammer toes to fasciitis to heel spurs, you can read about everything.

But why do we have so many problems with our feet?  Katy Bowman, Biomechanist, says that feet are not healthy because of a chronic pattern in our society that decreases circulation, contributes to weakness, and even negatively effects the joints in our knees and hips. 

The chronic pattern is wearing shoes.  Shoes to the feet are like, oven mitts to the hands – they may protect to a certain degree (degree fahrenheit, of course), but worn all the time seriously limit mobility and dexterity.  

Pink kitchen gloves isolated on white background.

And it’s not just that feet are in shoes most of the time… it’s also that we walk around on surfaces that are uniformly flat.  What the nervous system does between our feet and our minds is pretty astounding.  It’s constantly measuring how far away the ground is and it measures the distance between steps on a set of stairs, too. You’ve felt this when you expected a step that wasn’t there or didn’t expect a step that ‘was’ there.

Take a quick look at your own feet.  Notice the shape and health of the nails, the joints, tendons, and muscles (can you even see any muscles?).  Do you have an arch when you stand or only when you’re sitting?  Do you walk pigeon toed or duck footed?  What pattern do you wear into the tread on your shoes?

All this provides information about what’s happening in the structure that is the foundation of your body.  Without a strong and stable foundation, the rest of the structure suffers.  Buildings are constructed with specific guidelines for materials based on the environment and stressors to ensure value and long term usage. Think about houses for a moment – a house you want to buy may appear in great condition.  However, you need an inspector to determine if the foundation is crumbling.   Everyone knows that investing in a house with a suboptimal basement is a poor choice because the rest of the structure will eventually follow suit.   House foundation

Why don’t we think that way about our feet, too?   Unlike buildings, our feet require more than stability to function well – they also require mobility which adds to the complexity of keeping them healthy.

A woman I know  broke her left foot recently.  After limping around in a boot during recovery, she developed knee pain on the non-injured side.  It turns out that she tore the meniscus in her right knee after favoring her left foot for so long.  Unfortunately, the meniscus was injured because of a problem in her right foot that was identified years ago but not resolved.  

If you suffer from pain in your knee, hip, low back, shoulder, or neck, it just may be your feet to blame.  Improve your foot health and reap the rewards a set of strong feet gives the rest of your body. 

Start off on the right foot by trying movements like these:

1  Open and close your toes

 Toe abduction

2  Walk around on the balls of your feet

 Walk on toes

If you find them difficult or you want even more practical tips on how to move your body well, join us at the
‘Don’t Exercise, Move’ workshop, April 16, 2016
www.bodywisebodywork.com/exercise-move-workshop

Do we sit because we can’t walk?

Falling, TrippingAccording to this study done by Purdue University, the high fall and injury rate of students reflects the inherent instability of bipedal locomotion (walking).  Students are falling 58% of the time while walking, so it must be that humans weren’t meant to walk on 2 legs. 

 Seriously? 

Humans have been walking for a very long time… and because students at Purdue are tripping and falling over half of the total time they spend walking, the study concludes humans aren’t designed to walk.

Let’s look at other pieces of information that may have been a contribution to the problem.  Most individuals studying in a college setting are between the ages of 18 and 26.  It is very fascinating and interesting to note that, by 1988, the United States adopted the law requiring children to be in car seats (a full 10 years after Tennessee made car seats mandatory).

Hunh.  1988 was… 28 years ago.  My my, could there be a correlation between these young adults current ability (or inability, I should say) to walk and the environment that directly effected how, how much, and to what degree, they developed during their initial attempts to learn to walk?   

And by the way, has anyone looked at the connection between the increased use of automobiles and human mobility via walking or equestrian riding? 

Is it possible that cars and the use of car seats are the cause of the current trends in human walking incompetence?   

We’ve all seen ‘those’ parents who don’t take their children out of the car seats when the drive is over.  And now we even accessorize car seats:  They snap into the stroller, fit into the grocery cart, and even come with a curved base – all the easier to ‘rock’ the baby to sleep.  By the way, years ago a friend shared with me that these kids are called ‘Bucket Babies’ and tend to have a flat spot on the back of their head.

The truth is bodies are meant to move! 

Since car seats have become so versatile, children aren’t getting the same stimulation and opportunity to build movement patterns.  They are delayed, under-developed, and less coordinated.  Review the following growth markers considered basic development:

  • At 1 month, a baby should begin lifting their head and turning it to the side while lying on their stomach – in recent years, parents are told to give their kids ‘tummy time.’  No tummy time happens in a car seat.
  • At 3 months, a baby should begin lifting his chest as well as head and perform pushup like movements while lying prone.  They also push down with their legs if you stand them up.  Babies can’t push their legs against the curve of a car seat.
  • At 7 months, a baby should be able to roll over, sit unsupported, and bounce on her legs while supported.  Children at this stage have not developed the same strong network of motor nerves that more independent babies have.
  • Between 8 to 12 months, children should be crawling, pulling themselves up to standing, and walking with help.  If kids aren’t mobile by this point, they really scream about it!

Humans have been raised in an upright world for much longer than they’ve been placed in car seats.  There is more research to be had on this issue.   For now, understand that car seats are just the beginning of a life of limited movement.  With trends as they are, no one is likely to have a future of tripless walking – not with the average American sitting 9-12 hours a day.

Combat the effects of a sedentary lifestyle!  Walk more, Move more, Sit less!

If you need help or want to learn more ways to accomplish optimal health, attend the
‘Don’t Exercise, Move’ Workshop
April 16, 2016 at 3pm
rsvp dawn@bodywisebodywork.com

DON’T EXERCISE – Research supported!

man looking down cliffThe ‘Don’t Exercise’ blog has brought up several questions, multiple comments, and even emails questioning it’s validity.  From ‘Do you really believe this?’ to ‘That’s great news!’, from ‘What *should* I do?’ to ‘That’s a relief!’

Nearly all of the people who question the truth of ‘Don’t Exercise’ have one thing in common – they just read the blog title and didn’t read the content of the article.  The title is such a controversy and caused such a fuss that lots of readers unsubscribed from the newsletter, even a chiropractor!

A little while ago, another well known doctor and posture specialist, wrote a note disagreeing with my article about ‘The New Sit’.  Guess what?  He hadn’t read the content either, he just saw the image and figured I had bought in.  It turns out, we actually agree that the New Sit is NOT beneficial.

Where do you stand?   

Having read the title, ‘Don’t Exercise’, would you agree with the statement, or disagree?  Are you someone with an opinion and time to write an inquiry?  Are you someone who looks at the evidence or takes time to read up on the subject?  If you read a subject line that says ‘Don’t Exercise’ wouldn’t you want to know what in the world it was about?

I’m writing about it because it’s in the news and it’s not easy to read everything there is to know about sitting or exercise or health – this is your opportunity to get the low down on what the issues are and decide what to do for yourself.

I’m going to come completely clean here – research has found that SOME exercise is better than NO exercise.

This statement is a lot like saying some eating is better than no eating.  Or some water consumption is better than drinking no water.  If you read the following statement, would you understand what it means?

    ‘Cessation of pulmonary respiration is linked to higher mortality rates.’

Yep, I know that.  You know that.  I think everybody knows that.  Maybe not though.  If you don’t know it’s meaning, don’t sweat it.  There are professionals in the field to help translate the science-ese.  Here it is again:  ‘If you stop breathing, you die.’    

What’s the point, you ask?  It’s about understanding what the research has found about EXERCISE and HEALTH.

The American College of Sports Medicine says that the evidence in support of the beneficial effects from performing exercise outweighs potential risks against exercising (eg cardiac arrest, respiratory failure, joint damage, muscle tears, etc) in most adults.  This is a fact considered indisputable because exercise has been shown to support the following list of changes in sedentary individuals:

  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Improves lipoprotein profiles
  • Enhances insulin sensitivity
  • Manages body weight
  • Preserves bone mass in elderly
  • Reduces the risk of falling in aging populations

These are all good changes for people who spend most of their time SITTING.  By today’s standards, most people don’t consider themselves chronic sitters. 

However, Sitting is the new Smoking, remember?  Sitting is a health hazard.  A study from 2012, linked inactivity to over 5 million deaths worldwide every year, which is more than the deaths caused by smoking.  The new study by the Annals of Internal Medicine, found sedentary lifestyles increase the chances of developing conditions that contribute directly to dying prematurely, even for those who do the minimum recommended exercise. 

TVThe average American adult sits 9.3 hours per day not including commute times or meal times.  In addition, most people watch 3-4 hours of TV each day.  Potentially, you could be a 12 hour sitter, Monday through Friday.

Here again is the list of what may develop in the future (or you may have one or more already) that makes sitting such a hazard.  Sitters are still likely to face:

  • Higher risk of developing depression
  • Greater risk of developing cancer – colon, endometrial, and lung
  • Greater risk of developing heart disease
  • Increases the risk of obesity
  • Increases the risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes
  • Susceptibility to muscular issues (immobility)
  • Interference of LPL, lipoproteinlipase (fat breakdown for fuel)

As a reminder, this is the same list of problems for both categories of people:  Sitters who Do Exercise as well as Sitters who Don’t Exercise.

EXERCISE in and of itself is not the solution, therefore, Don’t Exercise!  If you only have so much time in a week, why bother stressing about getting in exercise if it doesn’t positively impact your Sitting health anyway?

The takeaway:  Time to make a Plan about your Sitting Habit. 

As a non-exerciser, add the minimum weekly recommendation – 2.5 hours of moderately intense aerobics, OR 1.25 hours of vigorous activity, OR combinations of both types.  This does not include muscle building activity two times weekly.

What will you do?  How will you do it?  When and How often should you do it?

If you don’t know, I can help with creating that plan – it’s my specialty.  Contact me at dawn@bodywisebodywork.com.

As a current exerciser, here is a very important reality check:  The minimum recommendations of exercise do not counteract diminished health from prolonged sitting.

Let me prove it to you with this simple test!  Stretch your calves for 30-60 seconds each side – I recommend a piece half-foam for consistency and portability.  Sit for the average amount of time you spend in that position.  For me, it’s about 70-90 minutes at a time.  Re-check your calves by stretching them again.  Hopefully, you’re convinced… Please send me feedback on what you experienced!  Calf_stretch

Here’s another reality check:  The body you take exercising, is the same body you use for sitting.  If you do more sitting than exercising, you strengthen ‘sitting’ body patterns.  The test is the same!  If your calves stretch-ability changes while you’re sitting, that’s the movement availability in your calves during exercise.

What will you do to transform to a non-sitting body pattern?  How will you do it?  When and How often should integrate the tools?

If you don’t know, I can help with creating that plan, too – it’s exactly my specialty.  Contact me at dawn@bodywisebodywork.com.

Til then, Happy Sitting!

The *New* Sit

Mom has been wrong all these years, telling us to sit up straight!  Articles published recently claim that sitting up straight places too much pressure on the spine.  MRI scanning of 3 seated positions, forward, upright, and leaning back, shows that a reclined seated position results in less intervertebral pressure and a decrease in compression on the spinal discs of the low back.

Check out this illustration:  http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/6187080.stm

Let’s think about this for just a moment.  Reducing the amount of total weight on the spine (by leaning back), will of course, decrease the amount of compression the bones and discs bear.  By this recommendation, a healthier suggestion intimates that people ought to lie entirely flat – that removes ALL pressure on the spine.  Actually, because gravity exists on this planet, it won’t remove all the pressure, so let’s ship everyone into space… that definitely removes most weighted pressure on the spine.

Given that this references only the weight the spine must bear, let’s have a go at this idea:  Remember what happens to astronaut bones?  NASA reports those tempting fate in space lose bone density and muscle mass along with many other side effects.  http://tinyurl.com/m798jwd  

According to WEBMD.com, bones are living tissue and continue to grow throughout our lives.  Bones cells are replaced about every 10 years or so, and what keeps them strong?  National Institute of Health declares the more work bones do, the stronger they get.

That’s saying something.  In space, bones don’t get much work because there is little gravity for the muscles and bones to work against.  Makes sense.  In a reclined chair, bones aren’t getting much work through pressure or pull of muscles on them to hold them in an upright position.  Will people who lean back and recline while seated for long periods of time, change their bone density as well?  Probably!

And to add to your ideas about bones and lowered density, health.harvard.edu declares that “Everybody’s bones get weaker as they get older.”  This is only true if everybody stops moving as they get older… (which is often the case).

Bones don’t move on their own or choose a density based on age.  Bones require muscles to move them and when a muscle acts strongly on bone, the bone cells know to increase density to withstand the forces applied.  Put pressure on your spine – actually try sitting up for a change!

Why do aging women tend toward osteoporosis?  Men typically have more muscle mass to begin with so they enter the aging years with more dense bones.  Weight bearing exercise is typically recommended for women post-menopausal to keep bone density up.

Too often women facing a diagnosis of osteopenia or osteoporosis are told they must take medications.  Why is this?   For people who have weak bones they obviously reduced their movement habits over a long enough time that the bones don’t ‘require’ density.  Are they able to transform their daily lives and begin to exercise?   It may be easier to ensure patient compliance by prescribing a pill than prescribing exercise.

Take a second look at each of the above profiles – the head is forward of the shoulder.   Researchers obviously didn’t notice the strain on the neck and the potential deformity of the neck bones when they recommended the reclined position as best.

What research will you follow?   Here is an article,  Science of Posture, that states standing (or sitting) tall, has a positive effect on your thoughts, moods, habits, AND hormones.  Ultimately, the choice is yours in how you hold your body.  Research seems to support both slouching and sitting up straight.

I support staying optimistic, thinking creatively, feeling empowered and keeping my posture upright.  To do all this, just move well and more often!!   And the added benefits include maintaining bone density in the low back, as well.

If you’re having trouble moving easily, sitting straight, or keeping your balance, contact BODYWISE for your consultation today – remember Good Moves make for a Great Life!


#MoveEveryday, #MoveMoreAgeLess, #BodyWise, #AlignYourFeet, #PosturePerfect, #CreateYourLife, #BetterMovement, #GoodMovesGreatLife, #NatureBodyWiseBody

Sit up or sit down

 

IMG_9208.JPGBodies conform to the shapes of the chairs we sit in: What does your chair ‘say’ about you?
If that chair is overstuffed and cradling your body, you may use very little (to no) muscle to hold yourself.

If it has a straight-back, your neck muscles can probably hold your head comfortably over the upright stacked spine – if it’s curved, the muscles on the front of your neck work overtime to support the head.

In a higher chair, it does not require much leg strength to lower yourself down.  If its low to the ground, it takes a lot of muscle to get there (or you just may avoid that chair altogether if it’s too difficult for you!)

Pay attention to where you sit.  Notice how long you sit.  Vary the objects you choose to sit in, from bar stools to Big Boys to… the floor!  If you can get up from the floor, and do it multiple times a day, you’ll live longer!!

If you do need to sit and the floor is not an option, I recommend sitting in a hard straight chair:

1.  You won’t sit too long in it,

2. You’ll have good support against which to stand up from, and

3. You’re likely to get in and out of it more often – a good leg strengthening exercise which will give you good moves and keep you body wise…
#MoveEveryday, #MoveMoreAgeLess, #BodyWise, #AlignYourFeet, #PosturePerfect, #CreateYourLife, #BetterMovement, #GoodMovesGreatLife

Change Your Chair

IMG_9127.JPGMost chairs are a similar height so the difference in the vertical change we make (from standing to sitting) on a daily basis varies little.  Obviously, a taller person has to lower themselves further to sit in a chair than one of shorter stature.

The important point is how often one *varies* the vertical distance traveled. The body habituates itself so well, that it learns and remembers how far away a chair is… And the musculature necessary to accomplish the task quickly adjusts to only whats needed (and little more).

Given enough time and limited movement, even the same chair can become difficult for someone to get into, or get out of.  We’ve all witnessed the elderly struggling to sit and stand…  Truth:  If we don’t use muscle, we lose muscle.

How do you know if you’re headed down the path to losing muscle?  A few clues are sure indicators

1. Using your hands and arms to lift yourself out of a chair

2. Difficulty getting fully straight and upright after sitting.

3. Inability to lower yourself all the eay down into the seat of a chair (*crashing* down the last 1″ or more).

Keep your muscles guessing – and strong – by changing what you sit on as well as where you sit!  Try standing  up more often throughout the day, too.

 

Babies Crawl

With our ever increasing ‘sit’ time – whether in front of computers, television, commuting, or flying – less movement means our bodies are suffering in different and profound ways.  Namely, bones aren’t quite as dense as they once were;  muscles aren’t as developed;  even our faces are differently shaped (just look at the jaw line on a Franklin!).

There is a new movement in exercise fitness (pun intended).  Some of the smarter health professionals are getting back to the basics and integrating more foundational movement patterns.  Because we are losing what initially contributed to our development and balanced alignment, CRAWLING is making it’s way out of the playpen and into the gym.

To start off my 2015 exercise focus, #MoveEveryday, I’ve been crawling through the house.  From the kitchen through the living room and down the hall is 20 full crawls.  And just to be clear, there isn’t anything special about it.  It’s just, you know, crawling on my hands and knees.

The results I’ve experienced are pretty incredible after just a few days:  I have this old SI injury that holds a pattern of tension from scar tissue – that isn’t tense anymore;  It used to be difficult to reach the colander on the top shelf – no problem now;  My ribs had a slight flexion pattern that effected my neck rotation – no flexion, full neck range of motion.

The down side:  There is something wonky about my left knee because it sounds like so much crunching.  I have to limit my crawl time on the hard wood until I can get my knee aligned.   But that won’t stop me entirely – show me some carpet, and I’m down on it (with hands and knees).

2015 is sure to be a transitional year – let’s make the Move to ‘Healthier’, together.

People Sit

IMG_1567There is no denying it – we live in a ‘sitting’ society. With so many chair styles, from straight backed to saddle to ergonomic, it’s hard to choose the one that’s best for you. Do you need lumbar support or mid-spine support? Is your neck bothering you or do your feet dangle?

So many different chairs to to sit in, yet each body can illustrate poor posture in any number of combinations.  Most notably, the forward head position in relation to the spine and ribs is cause for concern whether the chair is hardback or ergonomic.

What you don’t know *can* hurt you. No matter what type of chair you choose to sit in your muscle strength (or weakness) ultimately dictates your body alignment. And it’s your alignment, not the chair, that determines symptoms:  Whether you feel ease or pain, both are ‘posture’ based.

Discover your sitting patterns. Learn how to sit better and what constitutes a good sit (versus a bad sit) in the 21 Day Static Movement Event beginning January 6.

“But let us sit and be merry.”
The Country Wife, 1675 William Wycherley

BODYWISE’s Corrective Alignment and Integration Therapy (CaIT) is body mechanics and physical engineering rolled into one beautiful package to better your life.

Don’t let your body decline, and don’t blame it on ‘aging’ – our bodies were meant to move well our entire lives! If you’re not convinced, take advantage of  6 Days of Merry to Move You, go to www.bodywisebodywork.com/merry to see the Day 6 offer.