We all know too much sitting is bad. I mentioned the idea of avoiding optional sitting yesterday, and now I want to talk more about surviving those mandatory sitting situations like plane rides and car trips (because we WILL get to do those things again soon!)
First, let me review why sitting is less than ideal. Sitting makes it hard to brace the spine and keep it neutral because big supporting muscle groups are turned off.
When standing we get to use our big strong glutes to support our spine, but sitting turns those puppies off. We’re left with just our core muscles to support us, which eventually fatigue and give way to slouching.
When your spine isn’t braced by your muscles, you end up hanging your bodyweight on all your squished together vertebrae. Ouch.
It also doesn’t help that most seats (especially in cars and planes) are shaped in ways that trap you in to rounding the heck out of your back.
That being said, here’s a few ideas from our friend Kelly Starrett for surviving these situations:
Use a lumbar support placed on your back, right below your ribs.
Use a lacrosse ball or softball to mobilize soft tissues in your chest, forearms, and hamstrings.
Try compression socks to improve circulation and avoid “cankles”. I haven’t personally tried them yet, but Mr. Starrett swears by them.
Get up and walk down the aisle as much as possible. Go stand in the bathroom even if you don’t need to use it. It helps if you get an aisle seat or if you know your neighbors.
Cars (most of the airplane tips apply to cars too, but here are some extras):
Cycle your seat positions frequently. Modern cars have a ton of adjustability–take advantage of it.
Use the steering wheel to externally rotate your shoulders.
Since you can’t get up and walk around like in a plane, make sure you mobilize a little at each stop. Prop your leg up on the hood of the car or a bench and breathe some life back into those hamstrings.
You can really benefit from spending a few minutes mobilizing after you reach your destination as well. These all seem like such small things, but in my experience they really add up and make a big difference in how I feel once I reach my destination. My body always thanks me.
The biggest thing to remember is to keep moving. If you’re not already doing this, give some of these ideas a try and let me know how it goes. I’d love to hear what works for you.