Blog




Guest Blog: Lindsey Silva*, Floor Sitting

*Lindsey Silva is a Postural Alignment Specialist certified through Egoscue University, and a natural movement and postural alignment enthusiast. When she's not writing about postural alignment on her blog Young, Wild and Pain-Free (youngwildandpainfree.com) or helping clients overcome chronic pain issues through her practice, Primal Alignment LLC, she's likely tending to her balcony garden, doing some new DIY project, or shamelessly binge-watching Forensic Files with her husband.

We've all read the headlines that sitting is the new smoking. Scoliotics (anyone with back pain, really) know the unique challenges that come with sitting for too long. I wondered: Is there a healthier way to sit? After reading Katy Bowman's book, "Don't Just Sit There: Transitioning to a Standing and Dynamic Work Station for Whole Body Health, I realized there are better options.

Bowman recommends desks ("dynamic work stations") that allow for more varied movement while working. Think about it: A traditional desk keeps you still for 6-8+ hours a day, elbows at 90 degrees, neck frozen in place to keep you looking straight ahead, hips and knees locked at 90 degree angles in your chair, your feet entrapped inside constricting shoes, wrists resting (immobile) on a hard desk, with the only movement going on for hours at a time is your fingertips, tapping furiously at a keyboard.

With so little movement throughout our day, is it any wonder that our muscles get sore and atrophy over time?

Bowman's own "dynamic work station" allows for some great, varied movement—you can see a video below of her using it at work. Note that Bowman is a prolific writer who, at the time of this writing, has authored six books, so she’s no stranger to the demands of a desk job.

Dynamic Work Spaces with Katy Bowman - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-To51R0r0Aw

Enter: My "floor sitting desk" project!

After scouring Craigslist for weeks to find a simple table with wooden legs I could chop down, I lucked out and discovered the perfect table sitting curbside outside my apartment one morning. Score!

First, I measured how short the legs would have to be cut down. I wanted to make sure that my wrists could rest at a 90-degree angle while I typed at my keyboard, and I also wanted to ensure that I could stretch out my legs and feet comfortably underneath the table. For me, that measurement came out to just over 9.5".

I then repainted the legs, sanded down the surface, applied a nontoxic DIY stain, followed it with a nontoxic beeswax + olive oil sealant, then finally, I was ready to move my new “ground sitting desk” into my office and get set up!

Final thoughts? I LOVE my new desk! I’ve noticed an improvement on my back health, I think largely because my tailbone isn’t tucked under me all day. I also don’t feel as fatigued by the end of the day, although certainly at first my muscles have been slightly sore, since I’m calling on my core muscles to support me and keep me upright—muscles that have, until this point, offloaded their responsibilities of keeping me upright to my high-backed chair ;).

I loved this project, and I can’t wait to use my desk regularly!

Update (6/13/17): After more than a year of using my floor sitting desk, I’ve gained better insights, tips and techniques for getting most out of my “floor sitting” time. Read on!

1) It helps to have a standing desk. There’s a reason why Katy Bowman recommends a “dynamic” workstation, not just a “floor sitting desk.”

I can feel that I’m working much more movement into my workday with a floor sitting desk than my standard, sitting-in-a-chair desk. However, even floor sitting has its limit. Don’t miss this step: Get a standing desk, too!

2) Watch how you sit. I noticed just recently that my weaker ab muscles had found a clever way to get around doing their job of holding me upright as I was sitting on the floor—making me lean forward! This put my low back in flexion, and was strengthening my low back muscles. Not good!

I also started trying to vary up my sitting positions. Here, I place a sleeping bag under me, to encourage the natural arch in my low back and untuck my tailbone:

3) Even with all the changing of positions and “movements” you’ll do at a floor sitting desk, you still need to remind yourself to actually get up. For this, I use an app that’s simply called “Stand Up.” It reminds me, every hour, to stand up for at least a little while. Time flies quickly when I work, and I’ll realize that I could spend most of my day just sitting, unless I consciously choose not to. I highly recommend you download the app—it’s free and simple yet effective!—and if standing isn’t an option for you, it’s still a great reminder to move as you are able.

Overall, although I see areas where I could improve my work station, I still love my floor sitting desk, and I’m still so happy I did this project!


Why I Sleep with a Tennis Ball

One of my students just revealed a deep dark secret.

Tennis balls are used in my weekly class to roll out and I encourage students to roll during the day. This student admitted that the beloved tennis ball has now migrated to her bed.

I would propose that this is actually a wise decision. Just listen to Gil Hedley, the founder of Integral Anatomy, give a speech about “Fuzz”. Fuzz is the growth of fibers that inhibit muscle movement. His “Fuzz Speech” is fun to listen to and you can access on Youtube.

Below is a partial transcript of Gil’s “Fuzz Speech”:

“...each night when you go to sleep, the interfaces between your muscles grow fuzz potentially and in the morning when you wake up and you stretch, the fuzz melts. We melt the fuzz. That stiff feeling you have is the solidifying of your tissues, the sliding surface aren’t sliding anymore, there is fuzz growing in-between them. You need to stretch. (but you don’t)author’s edit

Last night’s fuzz doesn’t get melted.  I go to bed. I sleep some more. Now I have two nights fuzz built up. Now two nights fuzz is more than one nights fuzz. Now what if I have a week’s fuzz or a month’s fuzz? Now those fuzz fibers start lining up and intertwining and intertwining and all of a sudden you have thicker fibers forming. You start to have an inhibition of the potential for movement there. It’s no longer simply a matter of going ooh ahh stretch. Now you need some work.”

So, I believe that one of the great benefits of body work whether it be massage or structural therapies or physical therapy or any kind of hands on therapy. These types of therapies introduce movement manually to tissues that have become fuzzed over through lack of movement .... you know that you can take responsibility for melting the fuzz and if there is too much fuzz in your body and it’s frozen up, you might want to seek help in order to introduce movement so that the new cycle is a little more movement and a little more movement and a little more movement instead of a little less movement and a little less movement and a little less movement.”

So sleeping creates Fuzz --- Ball Rolling helps release Fuzz.

With our modern life style usually comes a modern lack of movement.  We over use some parts and barely use others. So start rolling in bed before you sleep and after you wake.

One body part that may have a lot of Fuzz is your feet.  The use of shoes since the time we are born has helped immobilized our feet and ankles.

Foot exercises and Ball rolling can help reduce foot fuzz like Plantar Fasciitis and hammer toes among other things. 

If you want to learn more about massaging and exercising your feet to keep them healthy and Fuzz-less, please join me on January 28th from 1pm to 3:30 for my Healthy Feet workshop at Willow Glen Yoga.

Sign up at www.willowglenyoga or visit yogirelease.com for more information.


Are You an Animal?


Do animals exercise?

Animals move naturally and efficiently to gather or hunt food; make nests and dens and escape predators.

Animals strengthen their muscles and increase and maintain circulation just by surviving.  They also rest....often.

Katy Bowman argues that there is no barrier for humans to stay healthy and strong just by preforming their everyday activities.

We have become separated from this experience because our world-view has slowly migrated to a position where we believe we have become separate (and superior) to the animal kingdom.

Katy writes in “Move Your DNA”

“....exercise is the only experience we, as a sort of zoo animal, have had with movement, exercise becomes the only word we have to define “what humans do when they move their bodies about the planet”

Walking is our most basic movement.

Walking can build and align the body if done with proper form and intention.

Are you an Animal?

To learn more join Lori Robbins for “Build a Butt. How your Gait affects your Glutes” Workshop on October 22nd from 1pm to 3:30pm. 

Sign up here: http://www.willowglenyoga.com/workshops/



The World is Flat (again)

“You adapt to whatever you do most frequently. The end.” Katy Bowman.

“Walking repeatedly over even ground prevents all other joint movements besides the ones necessary for flat-ground walking. Every other joint configuration that your foot and ankle are capable of has become sticky. The extreme number of sticky spots in modern human feet interferes with the communication between your body and brain, and in the case of walking or standing, your body’s postural adjustment system can communicate inaccurate information about the environment.”  Move Your DNA, Katy Bowman.

Planter Fascitis, Bunions, Bursitis, Mortons Neuroma, Balance issues leading to canes and walkers, Sacroiliac pain, Hip and Knee Replacements: Some of these have become so common that we consider them “normal”.  But are they symptoms that are a result of a poor movement diet?  In other words has our paved flat world resulted in the underuse of certain muscles and the overuse of others? Do our shoes cast our feet into a certain shape and decrease their flexibility? Is this a major contributor to some of our most common injuries?

How we walk can effects everything from the foot to the hip.  From the hip the pelvis is connected to the upper arm bones via the latissimus.  The pelvis is attached to the sacrum and femur.  Strong working glutes move the whole body while walking and can help position the pelvis in a healthy way.  Perhaps walking correctly can help prevent pelvic and sacroiliac disorders?  Perhaps healthy walking can help improve abdominal strength and shoulder alignment?

Lets face it: our world is paved and flat.  We can move around it unconsciously without worrying about becoming prey to predators or get hurt falling.

Perhaps walking on uneven and natural terrain is an essential movement nutrient. This movement is essential for our overall body health. When absent it may result in the diseases of the foot, hip and leg. 

“...shoes, worn for decades, limit the sensory feedback from our feet to our brain.....Then we may start to use canes, walkers, or crutches or rely on other senses to steady ourselves. By resorting to these compensations instead of exercising our failing brain systems, we hasten their decline."  “The Brain that Changes Itself” Norman Dolge

So this is my thought: What if walking on natural surfaces is also an essential brain nutrient? Perhaps hours of meditation on Mindfulness can be reduced to minutes of mind full movement on natural surfaces.  Add an ingredient of survival and safety to the mix and the recipe might provide all the perfect vitamins for optimal consciousness health and muscle balance.

To learn more join Lori Robbins for “Build a Butt. How your Gait affects your Glutes” Workshop on April 9th from 1pm to 3:30pm.

Sign up here: http://www.willowglenyoga.com/workshops/


Junk Food Movement


Junk Food: Something you eat that provides short-term satisfaction at the expense of long-term health.

Junk Movement: A way of moving that provides short-term fitness benefits at the expense of long-term health.”

Katy Bowman[1]Creator of Restorative Exercise

We all accept that some foods are nutritious and some are not.  But, if all you eat is spinach 3x a day you have not achieved a balanced diet.

A balanced movement diet is similar.  Just like only eating spinach, if you sit in a chair most of the day, you have not achieved a balanced body.

Movement, just like food, provides the mechanical requirement for human tissues to thrive.  Moving invigorates our tissues, cells and bones. It also hydrates and removes waste.  It provides the essential vitamins for a healthy body.

You respond: “I exercise 4x a week!” so I must have a balanced body, right?  But exercise is a subset of movement. 

Exercise usually involves small quantities of high intensity repetitive movements in the joints.  Most exercise overuses a few joints while the rest of the body is dormant.

“What are you training for?” writes Kristine Rudolph[2] “Is your training relevant and appropriate to the “sport” for which you are training?” If you lift weights at the gym, then you are training to lift weights at the gym. If you swim, you are training to swim, etc etc. 

“One of the reasons people feel the need to stretch tight areas is because they don’t spend very much time in positions that lengthen these parts. You can keep searching for the “perfect exercise program” or you can just change how you move all day long. Think about it.” Katy Bowman, Restorative Exercise

I propose a new paradigm: Training for all day movement.

Restorative Exercise is a biomechanical movement program created by Katy Bowman.  Her teachings and books provide a model of preventive and corrective exercises with emphasis on body alignment for optimal benefit from movement.

Restorative Exercise advocates walking as the most basic yet nourishing movement snack for the human body.

Walking is a comprehensive and complex movement that contributes to whole body wellness.  If you walk well you can recruit the muscles that build glute and hamstring strength, retain flexible strong feet and provide pelvic health.

Walking can also provide cardio and circulation, waste removal, and bone building impact.

 “Chew your food” is a common saying.  Most of us have also heard advice like “Stand up straight”, but we rarely get detailed instructions. Since we do not hunt and gather but rather sit and type, many of us have forgotten or never learned how to move well.  

 Often we mimic our parent’s improper movement patterns and end up with the same aches and pains they had.  To add to this, the basic sequence of heel strike, roll to toe and push off may have been compromised by a lifetime of shoe wearing and other cultural factors.

Now that we are Adults, learning how to walk in alignment can take a long time. Changing your gait pattern is difficult but worth the effort to reap the benefits of health.

 “The opposite of Sedentary is not “exercise”. The opposite of Sedentary is Movement.  The more you move the less Sedentary you are.  The End.” Jenni Rawlings[3]

To start your path to better health, check out The Willow Glen Yoga walking workshop on June 13th from 1pm to 3pm.

 Footnote 1

www.Restorativeextercise.com

Footnote 2

http://kristinerudolph.com/what-are-you-training-for-2/

Footnote 3

www.jennirawlings.com