To Fix Your Posture, Sit Like a Kid
After a certain age, balance no longer comes naturally and requires more cognition and awareness for its preservation. Moreover, the mind-body connection is central to one’s equilibrium, with lack of poise suggesting balance issues may be present. Brad Manor, PhD, associate director of the Mobility and Falls Translational Research Center with Harvard-affiliated Hebrew SeniorLife, calls balance “a complex system” involving many factors. “As people age, changes in flexibility, muscle strength and power, body sensation, reflexes, and even mental function all contribute to declining balance.”
Conversely, small children exemplify balance and poise effortlessly. They can run, play, get up, sit back down, and do all of it again several times over with great ease and mobility. Toddlers maintain upright posture without difficulty (thanks to good balance and coordination) because they haven’t yet been exposed to excessive sitting — particularly sitting in chairs. School is the first place young children learn to sit for hours on end, which negatively impacts their developing bodies.
The extent of our current sedentary lifestyle has exacerbated an already stationary culture for children and adults alike. The most pervasive, disruptive-of-natural-balance habit in the Western world is sitting. “We spend, on average, 11 hours a day in intimate contact with chairs, and they are reshaping us for the worse,” says Turner Osler, MD, academic trauma surgeon and research epidemiologist at the University of Vermont.
Your Office Chair Is Hurting You
But also, forget standing desks. Try ‘active sitting,’ according to a trauma surgeon who wants to cure sitting disease.
Rather than slump farther into your chair feeling despondent over one more thing to worry about, it might be beneficial to take a trip down your body’s memory lane instead. You might remember playing on the floor for hours without any back support as a child. Perhaps your gait was more of a sprint than a shuffle. Your head likely sat poised atop your body, looking out in front of you — instead of down at the floor (or phone).