Sitting up straight... When we think of it, we instinctively feel a sense of guilt that takes us back to our childhood. Maybe it was a parent, a piano teacher, or a random old lady that, even though they had our best interest in mind, nagged us into better physical health. But it doesn't have to be that way... First, we should try to figure out why we naturally, instinctively, bend forward while sitting. Why do we flex our entire spine, round our shoulders and crane our head back when we sit in front of a computer?
Our brain is always trying to make things easier on our muscles, because they are the structures that move us. If we need to expel a lot of energy to get things done, then the brain will naturally try to conserve energy in order to have enough left over to complete the big tasks that might come in the future. What the brain hasn't yet realized is that in this day in age, our bodies need very little energy to survive anymore. We use a washing machine to wash clothes, a different one to wash dishes, our food can be easily provided to us with the swipe of a credit card, even traveling hundreds of miles takes no more than a slight rotation of the shoulder and light push of the right foot. So when we do recline, a good way to restore some reserves between strenuous activity, we let our muscles rest and put all of the strain of our body weight onto the structures that don't move us - bones, ligaments and joints. In short intervals, this is a perfectly good way to recoup, but because we spend more time resting (sitting in front of a desk) than moving to stay alive, we strain those structures and stiffen the muscles that should be active all day long.
So we need to change with the times...
In this day in age, we should use these advances in modern life but we need to change our behavior, to compensate for the lack of activity that our bodies were designed to do. We need to sit up straight now. This will activate those spinal muscles that are normally used when standing, walking, bending and working. We need to exercise 6 days a week to use muscles throughout the entire body that would have normally (100 to 1,000s of years ago) been used just to stay alive and thrive.
So when someone pushes you with those guilt-ridden words, "Sit up straight!" Just smile and say thank you for the reminder, because you know that we all need it... Then remind them when they slouch!
Author: Abe Medlong, DC