How we spend our day makes an impact on our bodies and how we feel. Modern humans tend to walk and stand less and less. Most of the time people work at jobs where they sit all day, they sit in their car, they sit on their couch, and then lay in bed.
According to the NHS; many adults in the UK spend more than seven hours a day sitting or lying, and this typically increases with age to 10 hours or more. That means most of your time is spent sitting. Observational studies have linked excessive sitting with increased mortality, type 2 Diabetes, obesity, and certain types of cancer. Now, correlation doesn’t necessarily equal causation, but let’s look at this from another angle.
Our bodies are incredibly smart and adaptive. We need to keep in mind the S.A.I.D. principle to understand the impact of sitting on our health and functionality.
The S.A.I.D principle stands for: Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demands. This is a concept in Sports Science that suggests that your body will adapt based on the specific demands you impose upon it. (I.e. how you use your body will physically change your body due to what you do with/ to it.)
When we look at S.A.I.D from a Sporting perspective it is saying that your body will adapt to the specific demands placed upon it- so exercise when dealing with an athlete needs to reflect the sport that they are playing. This is exactly why different sports require different training methods. This seems pretty easy to understand.
However, this principle applies to everyone with a body, because what it suggests is that your body will make you better at whatever it is your repeatedly do. If you spend the majority of your day sitting down in a chair or your car, your body will make you better at being able to spend long periods of time in a chair.
Your body will begin to atrophy your glutes, your shoulders and head will round forward, and your chest and core will become weak. The roundedness of the spine gets even more increased with overuse of your cellphone. Your body will lay down the muscles required to sit down and get rid of some because that energy will be used better somewhere else.
If however, you dedicate time throughout your day to push your body in a way that opposes that time spent sitting, you can create a new “imposed demand” that can regulate that time spent over a desk, in a chair, or looking at your phone.
This is where regular exercise comes in to bring your spine back into neutral and build a stronger back body.
Here are some simple stretches you can do at your desk in-between email:
The Cat-Cow Stretch (chakravakasana) is a simple essential in yoga and for good reason. It consists of moving the spine from a rounded position (flexion) to an arched one (extension). Flexing and extending the spine can help improve circulation in the discs in your back. It’s a basic motion, but one that can be enormously beneficial in preventing back pain and maintaining a healthy spine, especially if you spend a lot of time sitting.
Twisting Poses help restore the spine’s natural range of motion, cleanse organs, and stimulate circulation. Indian yogi B.K.S. Iyengar describes twists as a “squeeze-and-soak” action: The organs are compressed during a twist, pushing out blood filled with metabolic by-products and toxins. When we release the twist, fresh blood flows in, carrying oxygen and the building blocks for tissue healing. So from the physiological standpoint, twists stimulate circulation and have a cleansing and refreshing effect on the torso organs and associated glands.
Eagle Arm Pose stretches the shoulders and upper back. This pose is therapeutic for those with lower back pain and sciatica. Because it opens the back lungs, it also increases breathing capacity and is invigorating for those with asthma. Practice both sides. It’s named after the mythological Hindu “king of the birds,” known as “Garuda.” Garuda was also the vehicle for the Hindu god Vishnu, who would ride on his back
Hands clasped behind back while chest lifts. This helps open the shoulders and the chest and reverse the rounding of the spine. Any time you notice that you are slouching forward, try to take a moment to roll your shoulders back and take a deep breath.