Anti-Desk: Muscular Creep

Anti-Desk: Muscular Creep


48,360 hours. That’s how many hours you’ll sit at
a desk over a 30-year career. That’s equivalent
of five years of your life. One of the most common
pieces of advice you’ll have when it comes to sitting
is to take regular breaks from the desk and from the screen. Now there’s a whole heap
of reasons for this. Probably the most common is to avoid a phenomenon
called Muscular Creep. Muscles have what’s called
a Viscoelastic property. That means they behave half like water
and half like a rubber band. That allows us to move
and stretch freely without popping like a water balloon or without becoming brittle like a rubber band
that has been stretched too much. When we hold a posture
for any length of time, because of these characteristics, our tissue gradually
lengthens and deforms. Now, this process starts
the moment we stop moving so it’s not exclusive to sitting. But there are some reasons
why it’s particularly dangerous and particularly harmful when we
do sit for extended periods of time. When we sit, we’re in
a flexed position. That lengthens out
and stretches the muscles trying to support the spine
and keep us out of more flexion. During creep, those muscles that are already
in a position of disadvantage become more and more disadvantaged
as we lengthen out. On top of that,
your sensory motor system, which is what’s giving us feedback
about their position is inhibited so they’re stretched out,
they’re working really hard and they’re blind so they’re not giving you
the feedback they were before. This creates a vicious cycle
of inhibition and weakness where they kind of fuel
and feed each other creating more and more
posture problems. Because of that flexed position, the discs between our vertebrae
become flexed into a forward position. Now, sitting puts huge comprehensive
force on those discs as well. When you combine the compression
from sitting plus the flexion of the muscular creep,
that force going through the disc gets sent rearward towards the back. That stretches out the
rear wall of the disc and puts it under more stress
than it needs to be. When we sit, our rib cage kind of comes forward,
that compresses on the lungs but not only that, what it does,
is your diaphragm, which sits between your ribs
kind of across here, its job is to move the lungs
and create breathing. When we are in this position,
it’s kind of switched off and it’s in a crappy position
where it cannot do much work. We’re not getting enough oxygen,
which is going to slow down our cognitive process and also
slow down our metabolism as well. Now, I talked about neck position
in the last desk episode. When that head goes forward
it becomes relatively heavier for the muscles at the back of
the neck to support it. As we creep — and that spine flexes
the head goes further forward sending us further into a creep as
the muscles at the back of the neck and the back of the spine become
exhausted trying to hold it up. And this is all because of the screens creeping forward trying to see
what’s going on on the screens. So, I think we need to do some fixes now. First, just become more posture aware. Being mindful of your positioning
and of your posture can sometimes be enough
to break that cycle of creep. You only have to remember every
five to ten minutes like, “Oh,” adjust, straighten up,
and get back to work. The second, and sorry
in advance Durham but a little bit of fidgeting actually
does wonders for your posture. Now, not the annoying
fidgeting that I do where you make lots of noise
and you’re annoying everyone. But little adjustments of your posture
little tweaks and shifts, as long as you’re not annoying
your co-workers or your classmates. Just a little bit of movement
every now and again is enough to wake up
those nervous system, wake the muscles back up and you
shift the load to different parts of the body so you’re not
always loading the same muscles in the same way, just little
adjustments can be enough to break that cycle. And lastly, set a timer
every 30-45 minutes to take some regular breaks
from the desk. Stand up, do a couple of squats,
grab a glass of water or do one of those
other anti-desk workouts that I left with you.

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