Sitting Disorder?

Thanks to everyone who has written in with their questions lately – I do apologize for not posting more often recently.  I moved my family across the country during the summer – not a small undertaking, it turns out.

Now that we’re back into the routine of school (or, at least, getting used to the idea), I’ll be putting out more regular posts about our favorite subject: “how to make my body as comfortable a place to live as possible.”

Following on from the back-to-school idea, I’ve had a few folks write in wanting more information about chairs and sitting.  Hopefully you’ve all had a chance to look at my post on chairs, so let’s assume you have and use this post as a specific example of the concepts.

First, let’s take a real world example of a chair and then let’s problem solve how to sit on it in a way that would work.  Then, in the next post, let’s expand on the idea of sitting so that you’ll understand how to make the concept of chairs work for you.

Let’s have a look at this picture of the chair that a subscriber sent in.

First, let me commend you, Jito, for having plenty of water on hand.  This is one of the most important things you can do for your body – drink plenty of water.  And by plenty, I don’t mean the old “8 glasses a day” non-sense.  I mean drink the amount that works for YOUR body.

I know I’m getting off track here, but here’s the formula, then we’ll get back to it: Vol/day (oz) = Body wgt (lbs.)/2. Or in metric Vol/day (cl.) = body wgt. (kg)/3.  It’s a target, not a commandment.

Photo-0224This particular chair suffers from what most chairs do – a fundamental design flaw.  you can see clearly from the picture that the back of the chair is lower than the front.

This suggests a backward tilt to your pelvis, which destabilizes your spine and prevents the pelvis from supporting the movement of the lower body, placing undue strain on the muscles of the low back.

That was a mouthfull, wasn’t it?  Let’s unpack that just a bit and emphasize that the key point here is that when you’re sitting for any length of time, you want to make sure that your pelvis can support your upper body, so that your spinal muscles don’t have to do that job.

And, as if that wasn’t enough – there’s another problem.

Here’s the picture again – with a few additions for clarity.

chair problems

The ‘issue’ that this chair has above other chairs is that when you sit in it, because of it’s design, will tilt backward slightly when you sit in it.

This will exacerbate the main “chair issue” and add to the stress and strain you feel when sitting in short order.

“Well, gee thanks, Chris,” you say.  “What’s the solution to the problem?”

There are two easy solutions to the problem – although they don’t address the underlying issue.  More on that in a minute.

The first easy solution is to get a small pillow or a folded towel and place it at the back of the chair so that when you sit, it’s just underneath your sit-bones (pelvis) and not your thighs.  That will help quite a bit.  For this chair, you’ll want to make it extra thick, because of the tendency of the chair to loose height in back.

The other easy solution is to get another chair.

Not to be flip about it, but there are better chairs out there that could be had for less than $50.  And, if you’re spending a lot of time in the chair, you owe it to yourself to get a chair that you can spend a lot of time in without doing yourself in.

Solving the actual problem requires some technique on your part.  Don’t worry it’s not that difficult – it’s more like breaking a habit: when you notice you’re doing it, do the thing that works better.  We’ll talk about that more in the next post.

Keep those questions coming!

First things first

A guy walks into a doctor’s office and says to the doctor, “Doc, it really hurts when I move my arm like this (he demonstrates).”

The doctor says, “OK,…. don’t do that anymore.”

We’ve all heard that joke, right?  Why does it seem sometimes that you’re trapped inside a body that won’t quite cooperate with what you’d like it to do?  Haven’t you ever wondered why your body didn’t come with an operations manual?

Wouldn’t it be nice if we heard this instead?

“Oh, right.  I see what’s going on – how about you stretch this other part over here out a bit first and then when you move your arm, let it move more like this…”, and viola!…it started to feel better.  I know that the first time someone did that for me, I was hooked.

What I noticed right away when I started doing bodywork (almost 20 years ago now) was that, largely because of my training, I was doing the same thing to everyone and expecting different results.  I think there were a number of reasons why I did that, but when I learned to see the body clearly and made the shift to a “let’s solve this problem together” approach with my clients, my results skyrocketed.

I’ve been called everything from crazy to mad scientist to genius and magician (as well as a few more colorful, but less printable, things).  I have created an approach to bodywork over the years that brings powerful results very quickly, all while feeling extremely gentle and “natural”.

Fortunately, I’ve had (and continue to have) the great privilege to study with some truly masterful people, and I’ve learned (and continue to!) a great deal about how the body works and how it can best interact with gravity and the world around it.

Many times over the years, I’ve been asked to explain what I see in, and how I think about, bodies and how I get the results I get.  On this site, I’d like to provide everyone with the “body working” lessons they never had – your Operations Manual.  Thanks to the marvels of modern communications, I’ll be able to respond to your requests by VIDEO as well as the written word – it’ll make things so much easier to explain.

So what’s fair game?  What can you ask about? Almost anything body-related is on the menu:
–    If it interacts with your body (car seats, shoes, clothes, chairs, etc.), I’d love to help you problem solve how to make it fit you.
–    If you interact with it (computers, musical instruments, sports equipment, etc.), I can show you how to use it so that you feel better at the end of using it than when you started.
–    How you can best do things with your body.  Walking, running, lifting, carrying, cycling, rowing, martial arts…  if you can think of it I’ve probably helped people do it better, faster and more easily.
–    Human geometry and the ideas behind how to re-design or re-task objects so that they fit you.  I’ve always thought it’s better to teach people the principles that lead to better results, rather than just give specific examples.
–    And, anything else you might think of or have wondered about.

I’ll be “seeding the waters” and priming your imaginations with little video clips that are designed to make your work life a little more comfortable, physically, anyway.  Please send in your questions to

This first video is about the chair and why most of them are too uncomfortable for words.  Have you wondered why your chair seems to get harder toward the end of the day?   If you’re sitting in a chair for more than an hour at a time, even if you have it perfectly fit to you, you’re not doing yourself any favors.

Let’s think about that idea for a moment.  Here’s another way to say it: unless you’re a serious athlete, you don’t do any kind of exercise for more than an hour at a time.  Why would you ask your body to do anything else for more than that?

Sure, you say, but sitting isn’t stressful – I don’t get tired doing it. No, you don’t get tired, but let’s make the distinction between leaving  your work feeling tired versus feeling  refreshed.  You have a choice, even if you don’t know it; which would you prefer?

You see, your muscles and connective tissues have been stressed into holding a particular position while you’ve been sitting.  Anytime you ask your body to hold a particular position, it has to do just that – hold.  Holding something requires effort, even if it doesn’t overtax your respiratory system.

At the heart of this is the idea is that your bodies are designed for movement, not stillness.  Your body is in constant motion, all the time.  When it’s asked to hold a position for long periods of time or do the same motion(s) over and over again, it has to hold itself a certain way, which requires focused, localized effort and effort will tax the system.
Your body also does real well if it gets an occasional break from whatever it’s been doing, so that it can let go of any accumulated stress; Hence the need for getting up and moving around for 5 minutes or so every hour (or less, if you like).

Most of you have countdown timers on your phones – mine’ll even let you choose the ringtone that signals you that it’s time!  Set them for 40-50 minutes, then when they go off, GET UP! Walk down the hall, get a cup of water…whatever.

So, enjoy the video and I’ll look forward to hearing from you –follow up questions are allowed.