Back in the days before cell phones and computers served as our primary means of communication (as well as our mailboxes, banks, social circles, newspapers, and entertainment), postural issues were much less prevalent in the general population.
Long before that, posture wasn’t a concern at all. When running was our only method of long distance travel, our minds weren’t focused on posture, they were focused on efficiency. That is, how could we travel the farthest and expend the least energy for the most reward? The answer was proper running form and posture. It’s how we evolved from moving like primates to standing upright. It’s also why you don’t see Kenyan marathon runners with the neck and lower back pain that afflicts desk jockeys.
Without going into too much detail, Homo sapiens adapted from our Neanderthal ancestors because of our ability to sweat. Sweating gave us the ability to do persistence hunting and kill meat while putting ourselves in less danger. Once humans were able to eat and cook meat on a consistent basis, our brains grew six times larger than they previously were. This was all because of movement.
Humans aren’t forced to move anymore. People live a box life: You wake up in your home box, travel in a box on rails to a work box with lots of smaller boxes inside it, go to an exercise box (the gym), and return to your home box at the end of the day. In many ways, our boxes are great—they hold our food and shelter us from predators and the elements. Unfortunately, they can’t protect us from ourselves. If we don’t move around enough in our boxes, it literally hurts us.
You often hear people complain of a tight back or a stiff neck. My first thought is always, “Have you tried moving it?” Movement is restorative; it can help repair the joint damage caused by a sedentary lifestyle and improve your mood in the process.
Taking movement breaks is the single most important thing a person can do for physical and mental health. Moving physically takes us away from our problems—I can get up, exit the office, and leave my problems and call lists in the dust. Just as important, a movement break can take us away from our problems mentally. There are many physiological reasons why this is true, but for simplicity, just consider that when depression medication was tested against an endurance exercise program, the latter was more effective in relieving depression symptoms. Even if you don’t experience a so-called “runner’s high,” you can at least avoid a “sitter’s depression” and the muscle aches associated with it.
You can get your movement in at the office without being “that guy.” You don’t need to sit on a Swiss ball, or get a standing desk, or do awesome hip mobility exercises:
Here are some easy and non-abrasive ways to stay mobile at work:
· Go for a walk
· Use a Lacrosse ball for self-myofascial release
· Do some subtle stretches (ex. standing calf stretch against a wall)
Now if subtly isn't a huge concern, here are some fun stretches to try if you sit for long periods of time:
Lunge Warm Up Complex