Sit Down Strong & Relaxed
From the desk of Sarah J. Rogers...
Many of us notice that as we get tired and as we age – sitting becomes a unique endeavor. Most of us focus on HOW we sit, the process of being seated, of considering our sit bones, our feet, our back, however sitting is a system that can help us bring awareness to ourselves in many more ways than simply “not hunching over.”
Our muscles experience 3 types of contractions: concentric (where the muscle fibers shorten), isometric (where muscle fibers are engaged but do not change length), and eccentric (where muscle fibers lengthen). When considering the movements you make to sit down, think about where your body is in space, what is engaged and what is relaxed. As we weaken, we tend to lose our ability to produce smooth movements especially those requiring us to fight gravity – i.e. the movement of sitting down. Our quadriceps muscles, as we squat to a seated position, must slowly release (an eccentric contraction). If we experience weakness here, then as we sit, we tend to FLOP into our chair and disengage the quads as soon as possible.
To clients of all ages I recommend forming a habit of practicing this movement; yes, practice sitting. When you go to sit, observe whether you sit straight down or bend deeply at the hips, whether you support yourself with your arms or not, whether you control your descent to the seat or fly towards the seat. To practice sitting, ensure that you have the support you DO need so if you need to use your arms for support, make sure that you consider a chair with handles or one near a higher table or surface. Now, place your feet shoulder width apart and slowly and consciously squat down until you hover just above the chair.
If hovering over the chair is not an option yet, then sit. Do this 5-10 times, rising just as consciously and slowly as you sat down. The goal here is to bring your attention to how you move while sitting and standing. When you do this, keep your back as comfortable and straight as possible. Imagine a string pulling your head up, rising up from your hips to your ribs to your shoulders, neck, and head. Imagining this rather than simply your back will keep you from pushing your chest out and arching your back to “straighten up.” Good posture should not be HARD, though changing our habits to form healthier ones can be a challenging process.
If you would enjoy integrating sitting in a more spiritual manner, I recommend meditation. Meditation often focuses more on releasing your mind of conscious thoughts, disconnecting from strict cerebral contexts that hold us down. Therefore, this may not be the best place to START focusing on posture. It can, however, give you tools to use if poor posture is, for you, rooted in stress and overwork. Try out OMBE’s Meditation classes held at 9:30 am on Sunday mornings. Welcome the day by practicing stillness and awareness. Jennifer will lead new and experienced students through a wonderful class of insight meditation. –Enjoy!
Licensed Massage Therapist
Sarah J. Rogers is a licensed massage therapist who received her training at the Cortiva Institute in Watertown, Massachusetts. Her practice focuses on the mind-body relationship and the usefulness of this connection not only for healing, but also for seeking balance in everyday life. Sarah brings her experience as an athlete and her compassion for mind-body health to her practice, inspiring growth and comfort in her clients. Along with massage, Sarah is now offering Active Isolated Stretching which can be done alone or in tandem with massage therapy. Employing techniques focusing on relaxation, neuromuscular therapy, stretching, myofascial release, and overall balance, Sarah will work with you to develop a treatment style that suits your needs.
"Good for the body is the work of the body, good for the soul is the work of the soul and good for either is the work of the other." -Henry David Thoreau.