How do you sit? Don’t look down. Simple as it sounds, it’s a question that carries considerable weight. The simple things in life are the ones that matter the most, someone once said. That being said, how we sit can impact how we breathe. Yes, I said the trivial things in life matter. You probably don’t think much about how you sit…but you should.
The sitting lessons were covered when your bite was still toothless and you brimmed with innocence but it’s time for a little refresher course. You have probably heard before that hunching when you sit isn’t a good idea. But you still do, don’t you? In fact, if you are reading this article on a seat that has a strict backrest then you are probably hunched up. Guilty feelings aside, have you ever wondered why?
The diaphragm is a strong muscular structure in the abdomen that is part of what makes breathing possible. Primary science says that when you breathe in, the diaphragm contracts and flattens. When you breathe out it relaxes and becomes dome-shaped. It is also the structure that suffers manual labor when you hunch when sitting.
That slumped position that is fancied by us all puts extra weight on the diaphragm since the back muscles are relieved of their duties of supporting the upper body frame and forces it to conform to an unnatural position. It depresses it and limits its ability to stretch to its maximum potential.
Now let’s ride the roller coaster of consequences: the diaphragm acquires a new shape due to excessive weight and forgets its elasticity. Its role in aiding breathing is now carried out with less gusto. There is less than normal tidal volume. The folks of poor breathing soon get the invitation, one of whom is particularly insistent. Studies have suggested a link between cancer metabolism and lack of sufficient oxygen in the body (read the work of Otto Heinrich Warburg, 1931).
Poor oxygen circulation is a guest that confuses the whole system, but thanks to our hyper- intelligently designed bodies, equilibrium will be restored without you even worrying about it.
Problems could arise when you age and possibly the vessels which had widened to keep your tissues well supplied are not so vibrant anymore. Or if you take drugs that cause contraction of your vessels. They are quite a number. Oxygen is like fuel in our body so low oxygen will reduce vital functions in the body such as heart rate and breathing. You don’t want that.
Since laziness appeals to our senses by default, we cannot rely on the body to tell us we have hunched too much. Just sit up straight every once in a while. Be dynamic. Switch sitting postures often.
Sitting for too long isn’t a noble endeavor either. Apart from being shunned by society as an art form best left for the lazy, doldrums-laden, and unambitious, you might want to avoid sitting for too long for reasons close to you…literally. As always when dealing with adults and informed youth, information is power…or else the forbidden fruit becomes all too sweet.
When you overuse your backside the muscles (too much repetitive exercise) there grow stiff. When you underuse them (sit around all day), they grow weak. Those muscles are involved in much more than just sitting. They support the body as well and shoulder part of the blame when you exercise, acting as shock absorbers.
When they grow weak or stiff, they can’t function as they should and other body parts take up the blame, often with a lot of grumbling (back, hip or knee discomfort and pain). It’s called Dormant Butt Syndrome and it sounds comical until you get it. Then you will be the butt of the joke. ha.
Remedy? Be active. Walk around. When your nether regions sound an alarm in form of pain or fatigue, get up and stretch a bit. Athletes may want to include exercises that strengthen the gluteal muscles. However, it is important to note that these recommendations are but possible preventive measures. For definitive diagnosis and treatment, seeing a doctor may be in good order.