It’s easier to sit…until it isn’t

You’re tired, so what do you do?  Sit down.  Need to run errands?  Sit in the car.  Got a desk job?  Yup, more sitting.  Trying to build an online presence?  Ha!  Even coaches have to sit at computers.

You don’t even think about how much sitting you do until you realize you are gaining weight from not moving enough, feel stiff from being in one position, or discover muscle imbalances that affect your regular activities.

I recently got a whole new perspective on sitting…because I couldn’t.  Here’s my story.

This year a dream came true and I moved into a mountain home.  It was the middle of winter and the move itself was as epic as the January snowfall.  When the moving truck finally arrived between storms it was all we could do to keep the walkway clear.

Settling in began a routine of shoveling snow, carrying wood, shoveling more snow, breaking up ice, walking the dogs in the snow, skiing and snowshoeing out the back door, carrying more wood, shoveling more snow…who needed a gym?  This was the start of a grand new adventure!

Could there be anything better than walking in a winter wonderland?  NO!

That is until I fell on ice in the parking lot.  Hard.

So hard I went inside and tried to sit, lie down, roll over…nothing was comfortable.

Then it hit me.  I couldn’t sit, at least not for very long nor in any one position.  I tried to envision the rest of my life standing, and reached for more ibuprofen.  Sitting used to be so easy!

Sure I have been getting better each day, but the truth is I was not able to fully squat, lunge or deadlift for nearly 3 weeks, and sitting for extended periods was painful.  Even cross-country skiing is a glute-buster when your glutes don’t want to be busted.  And for some reason, I seem to have lost my interest in learning to ice skate this year.  I…do…not…want…to…fall…again!

What a different perspective on life.  I started thinking about all the people who sit at desks for their jobs or prefer to curl up on the couch to read or watch TV instead of moving their bodies.

I used to be like that: desk work, paper shuffling, endless meetings around conference tables followed by evenings knitting or reading, and drive time…lots of time driving to and from work, to and from kid’s activities, to and from endless errands, and long drives for vacation or to visit family.  Sound familiar?

Even though I thought I was pretty active and strong, I started suffering from aching hips and eventually developed sciatica.  My physical therapist confirmed I had something called “gluteal amnesia.”   What???

I had overactive, overtight hip flexors struggling to compensate for weak core and butt muscles that seemed to have forgotten how to function.  How did that happen??  My life, as well as my workouts, were unbalanced. Too much sitting and not enough emphasis on posterior strength or hip mobility during my workouts.

I see this all the time in others.  Clients come and don’t want to tell me their jobs and hobbies are mostly sedentary.  In truth, I really don’t have a problem if you tell me this.  Especially now because I kinda miss the once-mindless, simple pleasure of sitting.  I, too love to read.  I, too sometimes like to just kick back with my feet up.  But in my role as a coach I know how to work with you on a number of things so you don’t follow a similar path to pain, including how to:

  • Build a little more movement into your day, throughout the day, starting at whatever level you are ready, willing and able to work at.
  • Make sure your daily movement includes exercises to strengthen the posterior chain, ensuring your glutes and your back muscles will help you stand tall.
  • Mobilize the hips and restore functional movement patterns to counter all the time spent sitting.
  • Stretch and foam roll to help keep the muscles free of knots and tight spots.  Of course, stretching isn’t always the answer.  If some muscles are achy because they are trying to do the work of other muscles that are not working, it’s important to get that sorted out and corrected before compensation leads to pain or injury.

So much of what we are and how we feel on any day is built on the foundation of habitual patterns: how we move, sit, eat, and think.  Sometimes it takes an earthshaking fall on the ice to snap one to awareness.  Other times it takes a slow descent into immobility when our priorities are elsewhere to make us wonder where the years and our youth went.

Either way, it’s not easy adjusting to change, or the realization that even if it is easier to sit, it’s not really.  On so many levels.

If you’re ready to start moving a little more, or a little better, I invite you to schedule a free 30-minute action planning session to learn some simple strategies to improve your health, fitness, and sense of wellbeing now.