Constructive vs. Destructive Rest Positions

Posted: 24/06/2012 in English, Science and stuff

Written by Keats Snideman (web)
In the previous posts I’ve written in this “Other 23 Hours” theme, I covered the importance of taking microbreaks, performing pre-bed self-massage & stretching, and the importance of sleep ergonomics. In this fourth installment, I”ll be going over a related topic of rest positions.

Not a Good Way to Spend Your Day!

When most of us get home after some exercise, a long session of retail therapy (i.e. shopping!), or a full day at work or the office, we immediately think of plopping our keasters down on a nice sofa, lounge chair or other comfy piece of furniture designed for sitting. I’m no different and love spending time on our family’s leather couch for at least a little while after a long day of massaging and coaching people. However, many of us might be better off spending at least some of this leisure/rest time in any other position besides sitting. Since so many people spend their days in a seated position with a fairly slumped posture, is it a wise idea to spend the rest of the night sitting as well?

Does this Position Look Familiar?

From biomechanical research, we know that sitting invokes higher inter-discal pressures than even standing does. Add in some serious slumping and the pressures go up even more. Now this isn’t entirely bad as rest (of any type) is so needed by a stress-laden society such us ours. However, the increased lumbar (and cervical) stress from all that sitting can take its toll over time as the discs slowly migrate backwards towards the spinal nerve roots. Look at the image below from researcher Alf Nachemson, who in 1966 conducted this study demonstrating that sitting introduces potentially harmful pressures into the spine.

Disc Pressures Are Higher When Seated!

Solutions and Constructive Rest Positions

So rather than sitting (a potentially “destructive” position) for hours upon hours for our primary rest position, why not try some of the following alternative “constructive” positions for a change. Even 2-5 minutes can make a big difference. If time is availalble, you could work up to spending 10-20 minutes in such a position; better yet, why not rotate between a few of them after spending a few minutes on the foam roller. It should be noted than any position or posture held for too long can become a bad thing as chronic muscular tension or connective tissue strain (i.e. creep or hysteresis) can lead to ischemia and other circulation problems. One of the best quotes that I”ve heard over the years regarding posture is as follows:

“The best posture is the one you aren’t currently in!” So the bottom line is to change your postural position frequently!

Supine Options

Supine with hips and knees elevated-

Feet elevated on wall, chair, or ottoman-

Lying Supine on Foam Roller (postural reset button)-

Corpse Pose (Sahvasana from Yoga)

Prone Options

Prone Extension Series (a la McKenzie Lumbar Corrections)-

Crocodile Breathing-

Conclusion

So as you can see, there are many other rest positions that people can utilize instead of plain old sitting to recharge their batteries and help decompress from graviational postural strain. Additionally, focusing on slow, diaphragmatic breathing during such rest periods will also aid in the relaxation process greatly. Make sure the exhale is about twice as long as the inhale with deliberate pauses before inhaling after the exhale and you should be good to go. Some people get light headed when practicing this type of breathing by going to fast and not pausing in between breaths.

I hope you have enjoyed this edition of “the other 23 hours” and please share this blog post with any of your friends, colleagues, and family members who you think might be able to benefit from the simple yet powerful information.

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