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February 19, 2016


Sitting is the new smoking


They say sitting is the new smoking and they may be right. Listen to your body.

I am currently in the write up and editing stage, and in the midst of a tonne of reflection as the result of wandering through the valley of sh!t. To be honest, I’m probably more limping through this valley, as I am feeling the effects of sitting at my computer supposedly writing. ‘Supposedly’ writing – but it’s more like this:

Source: PhD Comics

Source: PhD Comics

I like to sit cross legged on my seat for long periods of time, and this has resulted in hyper extension of ligaments around ankles and knees – leaving me with very sore feet and ankles at the end of the day. I’ve also had a notable increase in knee pain in ascending and descending stairs.

I’ve also noted issues in my hands. Not so much with typing, but with my mouse. I started with a Trackpad, and have moved through a few alternatives with varying results:

  • My Apple trackpad is great for fine control on my computer, however I noted pains shooting down the back of my hands up towards my wrist – probably due to the strength required to click.
  • My Logitech mouse – totally love it, however I have noticed that my thumb can get tired over time due to the heavy reliance on the thumb for scrolling, and I have pain now even when I’m not using it.
  • Now I’m back to a traditional mouse – it’s too early to report any change in symptoms, but I probably have some sort of RSI in my hands by now. I am going to look at some exercises to reduce the impact of these instruments.

From Trackpad, to Logitech ergonomic mouse, to regular Apple mouse

In terms of sitting, I now have adjusted my seat and have a foot rest – it still needs improvement as I am always itching to put my feet up on the seat of my chair. I have sat cross legged most of my life and I am very uncomfortable sitting with both feet on the floor. I probably need to look at exercises like finding my primal posture, as per the video below.

I have tried a standing desk, and that is great for short bursts. However if I stand too long I need to sit as my feet start hurting. I have aquired some rubber thongs (aka flip-flops or jandles for the non-Aussies), as I realise the long standing time on the marble isn’t doing me any good. I had been using a carpet to stand on, however the help of that wears off pretty quickly.

While the experts may not agree, it seems we ultimately need balance and variety of movement, and I think this is more relevant especially as we get older.

“What’s best for your muscle and joints and your mind’s productivity? Sit for no more than 20 minutes at a time, Hedge recommended, and stand in one position for no more than 8 minutes. You should also take a two-minute moving break at least twice an hour to stretch or walk around.” —Boston Globe

Buffer, a company I respect a great deal has a practical work philosophy towards movement, and while it’s not practical and highly disruptive to my already disrupted writing to implement all at once, I’m going to start to slowly implement some of the suggestions. I’m starting this week with work breaks: I am now setting my timer to 25 20 minutes (the Pomodoro technique recommends 25 – I’m changing this to 20) and alternating positions or just taking the time to get up and go look out a window. We’ll see how that goes.