Sitting is the New Smoking


You’ve probably seen articles like this one recently in the news:

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There’s no doubt that, due to technology and the proliferation of the automobile, we are sitting more than ever before. Increasing number of jobs require us to be in front of a computer and commuting traffic seems to just be getting worse.

And I agree that the human body is made for movement, and therefore prolonged sitting, or immobility is deleterious to our health, as is smoking.

However, what I see missing in this analysis is HOW WE ARE SITTINGSitting is far from a uniform activity. There is a wide range of positions, postures and ways people use chairs. Or in Alexander Technique terms, there’s a wide range of ways people use themselves while sitting. Just take a look around the office, cafeteria or restaurant.

Note the photos below. There’s a big difference between how she’s sitting in the first photo and how she’s sitting in the second, or even the third.

OfficeGoodUse   OfficeKyphosis   OfficeLordosis

To extend the metaphor: there’s a lot more smoking in the second and third than in the first, where she’s balancing her head on top of her spine, and her spine on top of her sits bones.

I am a strong advocated for  taking breaks, standing (and lowering) desks, treadmill desks, nap rooms, working on a laptop in bed, walking meetings, improving diet, fitbreaks, etc. They are generally good for us.

Yet, we also need to pay attention to how we are sitting and doing all these activities.

For example, yoga sounds soothing and perfectly safe, yet I’ve worked with a yoga student who ripped her sternum because a teacher pushed her too much in class. On the other hand, Crossfit seems dangerous, yet I’ve seen some Crossfitters who have never been injured (and their use was impeccable).

So how are we supposed to sit? Before taking Alexander lessons, many of my students would catch themselves slouching or hunching as they sit. They then would lurch up into a braced military pose, which lasted about five minutes. Defeated, they then collapse back down.

So again, how are we supposed to sit? How are we supposed to do anything?

That’s what Alexander Technique lessons are for: to remind us how we are designed to sit, stand and move – in any human activity –  in accordance with our architecture, so that we’re taxing our body and mind as little as possible.

Try one ; )