All That Sitting Got You Down? De-Desk!

Mar 9, 2022

“We are literally creating a new body with all of this sitting and this new body is not how the body was designed to move.” - Dr. Lauren Polivka

All That Sitting Got You Down? De-Desk!

If you plow fields, hunt for food, work on a construction site, own a landscaping business, or have a physically robust way of earning a living, read no further. You’re golden. But for the rest of us, the ones who spend a decent chunk of time sitting at a desk hunched over a screen, or long periods of time in the car, or devouring Netflix in big chunks…then we need to talk!

You are likely suffering from a “desk’ified” body. Of course, I just made up that word…but it’s descriptive, don’t you think? A “desk’ified” body is a body that is incurring a specific type of stress from being petrified in a single, overused posture, like sitting. Currently, the average American spends 55% of their waking life in sedentary behaviors. And the average office worker spends 10-12 hours sitting each day. Add in the number of hours spent sleeping, and you get a bleak picture of what is happening to our bodies.

Why is Sitting So Bad?

Some of you may be wondering…why is sitting so bad? Is it not relaxing our bodies? (It is not.) Simply, our bodies are designed to be bipedal or upright. The organization of the bones and connective tissues is meant for standing. So, sitting is working against our biology. Our friend Dr. Lauren Polivka has said to me many times, “We are literally creating a new body with all of this sitting and this new body is not how the body was designed to move.”

Yet sitting is unavoidable, and the trouble is that we can’t “out exercise” these sedentary postures…it requires a little more TLC than that. We need ongoing strategies sprinkled throughout the day to combat the negative effects of sitting or being in any continuous posture for too long. We call it De-Desk™ Your Body, and…well, I’ll get to that shortly.

Let me make it real for a second. On Saturdays I teach to friends and family at MOSSA HQ and several of them have gone to see Dr. Lauren for various maladies, often shoulder stuff. It must be an exercise injury, right? NO! So often, they discover that it’s the shoulder on the side of the body that uses the mouse! Yup, something as simple as sitting at a desk and having one hand on a mouse continuously can wreak havoc. Exercise, and sometimes the inability to do an exercise, shines a light on the problem, but the desk posture was likely the source. Said another way, inactivity causes the harm, and activity opens our eyes (and joints!) to it.

Think about it: how many times have you pushed away from a long period of sitting only to find your neck, knees, lower back, and hips feeling stiff and tight? Did you make a noise when you stood up, or feel the need to flex and extend different body parts? Crazy right? It’s not activity causing it – it’s inactivity!

Are We Stuck With Being Stuck?

So where does that leave us? Are we stuck with everyday pains?

Thankfully no, but we must change the way we think about movement and distinguish between working out and working in. Here’s one way of putting it: a workout improves some aspect of physical fitness. It places stress on the body. A work-in, among other things, improves Movement Health and in simple terms, physically de-stresses the body.

Our “desk’ified bodies” need “de-desking,” to de-clench, un-hunch, and reset our posture. And sure, many features of MOSSA programming have De-Desk™ Your Body features baked in, like dynamic, three-dimensional Recovery in Group Power, and Reconditioning in Centergy. But trying to fully de-desk the body during a workout is impossible, because a singular bout of exercise doesn’t undo the negative impact of a day spent in overused postures. It would be like depositing enough money into your overdrawn checking account to get to zero…then going on a spending spree. Every day. For 10 to 12 hours. We have to deposit as we spend, and for de-desking, Dr. Lauren tells us that we need to invest at least five minutes for every two hours we spend sitting.

Essentially, we need what I call movement snacks throughout the day to prevent our bodies from fusing into these postures. Yes, it’s true…in some ways our body locks into these positions. Consider fascia, or the body’s version of Saran Wrap. Picture the Saran Wrap across your hip joints, or in your elbow creases or behind your knees, or across the front of the ankles. Can you visualize it sticking to itself? Can you visualize all the juicy fluids that keep the fascia hydrated and pliable getting pushed and squeezed away, leaving the fascia dehydrated and stiff like a shammy towel that has been left out of its container?

Move More. Feel Better.

Our De-Desk™ Your Body series on Mossa On Demand is the perfect way to reverse locked postures in bite-sized snacks throughout the day. I mentioned it before, but to reiterate the rule of thumb: for every two hours of sitting, complete one short, guided 6- to 8-minute De-Desk™ session.

Having trouble committing? My favorite “habit” strategy is to habit stack. Habit stacking, a method popularized by James Clear and outlined in his fantastic book Atomic Habits, is the process of capitalizing on the fact that we already have well-ingrained habits, or habits that no longer cost us too much bandwidth. Brushing our teeth, taking a shower, and making a coffee prior to getting to our desk are all examples of things we do almost on auto pilot. Stacking a new habit that is a little more costly to our motivation bank account, on top of something that costs nothing, helps to ingrain the habit.

Here are some ideas:
• Combine the habit of getting water with de-desking
• Combine the habit of going to the bathroom with de-desking
• If there are some simple automatic processes, you do each day at work, like a call you need to make or a report you run, can you multitask and de-desk your body at the same time?
• Could you combine your mid-morning or mid-afternoon actual snack with a movement snack?

James Clear is also famous for saying, “You do not rise to the level of your goals, you fall to the level of your systems.” In other words, de-desking your body will never happen unless you create a specific system. And great news: our six guided sessions leave you with no guesswork and no excuses.

If you want to feel better in your body, start with a quick head-to-toe checklist. Is your head jutted forward? Is your chin tucked toward your neck? Shoulders rounded and/or shrugged? Arms bent and stationary? Hips flexed? Glutes sleeping in a chair? We’ve gone far enough! Make a commitment to Movement Health and create a plan to take a de-desking break every couple of hours…starting now!

 

MOSSA’s mission is to inspire people to move, and we create and deliver workouts for health clubs and YMCAs worldwide, as well for the home user, through MOSSA On Demand. But moving well for life is about more than just exercise. Yes, exercise is important, but at MOSSA we believe that recovery and restoring our bodies is equally vital, to maintain mobility and the uninterrupted ability to move well, with ease, and without restriction. We call it Movement Health, and we partner with industry leaders to deliver guided sessions like De-Desk™ Your Body, products like NIMBL Percussion Therapy, and expert advice and motivation to keep our participants active for life.

“We are literally creating a new body with all of this sitting and this new body is not how the body was designed to move.” - Dr. Lauren Polivka

Author

Cathy Spencer Browning
VP of Training & Programming

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