This post is part of a series, sharing my favourite products and discoveries from this last year. (You can find the first post here.) If you have any favourite ideas to contribute, please feel free to comment. Anyone who comments during this series over the next two weeks will have their name entered in a draw for an Amazon gift card. Let us know what you’re loving!
This was the year I stopped sitting so much. For anyone who’s been reading my blog for awhile, you are probably aware that I’ve dealt with a lot of pain in my back and hips over the years, and although I’ve made significant progress recently, it just wasn’t enough. I was still experiencing more pain than I wanted to, and just when I felt as though I was gaining ground, little things would set it off again – sitting too long in the car when we’d drive to the lake for the weekend, or a really bad chair at a restaurant.
When I would express my frustration to my muscle therapist, he would say things like “Bring your own chair!” or “Don’t sit down!” He always had an answer for everything, but it didn’t always feel very practical or doable – how was I going to bring my own chair everywhere?! We finally came up with a solution that’s worked well – I never sit longer than 20 minutes, and when I do sit, I use an Obus Forme cushion. (I have a seat cushion and a back rest – affiliate links) These things are amazing – the first time I sat on one, it felt like my whole body breathed this huge sigh of relief. I was finally comfortable! I can take it with me wherever I need to go. People give me strange looks and wonder what I’m carrying around, but I’m learning to get over that. No back pain is worth suffering on a bad chair, so people can stare all they want. I use it for driving, and around the house as well. My kids are always choosing to sit on it when I’m not, so I’m not the only one who finds it comfy! It’s a great solution for anyone who regularly needs to sit somewhere uncomfortable, or anyone who is wanted to sit with better posture.
Whenever I do sit down, I’ve gotten in the habit of looking at a clock to time myself, and I change position every 20 minutes. I found it interesting to learn that the standing desk craze is not actually the answer to problems with sitting – my muscle therapist explained to me that no position is great indefinitely. We need to change between standing and sitting, and it’s even better if we can stretch and move around. Standing desks are only a good idea if you have a high stool so you can regularly change your position.
The long car rides to the lake in the summer are still tough for me, but if I stretch before we leave, halfway there, and once we arrive, I can keep it under control. So if you’re ever driving to the Whiteshell, and you see someone doing yoga in the ditch, it will be me. Ben takes the kids exploring in the bush, and I work out my stiff muscles on my yoga mat.
Here’s the thing – I’m not the only one who needs to be taking extreme measures. Have you heard the expression “Sitting is the new smoking”? My muscle therapist says everyone needs to get up and move every 20 minutes. Now that my body has gotten used to this habit, it feels horrible to me when I sit for long periods of time. I can’t believe how quickly my muscles tighten up. We weren’t made to sit around for hours at a time, and yet that’s what our culture does. Our world has been built for sitting – restaurants, movie theatres, church, work, school, everything. People just sit, all day long.
Trying to work against this has proven to be really hard for me this last year! It has to always be on my mind, and I need to get creative about it. In the beginning, I used an app on my phone as a reminder. I’ll always choose a seat in the back row so I can switch back and forth between sitting and standing. Ben and I even went to see a movie recently, using the same strategy! Constantly changing position in a movie theatre was a bit of an inconvenience, though – I prefer Netflix at home so I can freely move about as needed! Restaurants are also tough, because there’s not really room for standing, but when there’s a bar stool option (The Keg’s outdoor patio, for example!), the table is the perfect height for sitting or standing! The waitress thought I was weird, and asked if I was alright, but once again, my personal comfort has to come before being “socially acceptable”. And really, what’s it going to take for this to be the socially acceptable way? I like to imagine what life would be like if everyone was making the same effort to stand and move. Maybe someday, public places will- be more standing-friendly, who knows?! Ben is curious if we’ll have standing cars in the future.:)
In the meantime, Ben’s creative problem-solving skills have been very useful in helping me figure out how to take uncomfortable sitting scenarios, and come up with ways to get me moving.
And of course, going for daily walks, yoga before bed in the evenings, and stretching throughout the day are all important habits which greatly increase my comfort, and get me moving.
What are your favourite ways to get active? Does it come naturally to you, or do you need to work at it?