A squat a day keeps the doctor away

Your chair is killing you…one day at a time

It first came Christmas Eve 2018, stayed a few days then went away. Then during lockdown it came back. Almost every single day it came and at times its been almost crippling.

Lower back pain. In my case, caused by a problem sacroiliac joint getting stickier than a rusty wheel nut. The first half hour of being up was fine. Then my back would tighten up quickly. The muscles going into spasm, spreading like a fire across my lower back. The pain would take my breath away, I became scared to move, what little I could.

Some gentle stretching in various poses would slowly loosen it and with some painkillers, after an hour I could move again. Pain free.

Despite walking two miles a day I was still struggling. It would leave me looking, feeling, sounding and moving like a very old man.

What and where is the sacroiliac joint?

The sacroiliac joint is located in the pelvis. It links the iliac bone to the sacrum (lowest part of the spine above the tailbone). This joint transfers weight and forces between your upper body and legs. Watch this great animated video.

It is an essential component for energy transfer between the legs and the torso. No wonder I could barely move!

How sitting is a daily death sentence

If that weren’t enough. As soon as we begin to sit these things start happening.

1. Metabolic activity and caloric consumption slow dramatically (70% less than even just walking).

2. Sitting several hours every day increases insulin resistance (leads to type-II diabetes)

3. Increases LDL (aka “bad cholesterol”).

These effects, in turn, lead to lower energy levels, increased weight gain and even lower life expectancy and greater risk of colon and breast cancer. Yikes!

Most of us rarely move our legs past either, 180 degrees (when walking) or 90 degrees when sitting, to our spines.

This means that we just don’t use a large part of our hip and lower back mobility. Sadly, for us if we don’t use it, we lose it.

According to Carlton Reckling, MD, an orthopaedic surgeon in Wyoming, the medical literature, says up to 25 percent of lower back pain comes from an issue with the sacroiliac joint.

You might not notice it at first. Overtime though, tight hips and back change the way you move. Your range of motion is eroded away. Like the rust on that wheel nut, it’s silent and relentless.

What can I do?

As Real2Real said in their song “You like to move it, move it”

One of the best ways to move it is to squat. We can learn a lot from our children and from less developed countries around the world, where lower back pain is almost non-existent.

Have you ever noticed how easily kids just drop in to a full, deep squat? Or have you seen pics of some African tribes people sat fully on their haunches?

When we squat we stretch the muscles and tendons of the hips and lower back and we also help keep the sacroiliac joint lose.

Like any joint in the body or out of it, it needs to move to keep it from seizing.

Unlike sitting, squatting is the perfect resting position for the human body. There is almost no compression of the spine and the whole body is stabilised by the muscle of the legs hips and core working in unison.

By squatting on a regular basis, it is possible to reverse the damage done from years of sitting.

I noticed a big difference within two days.

By spending one minute in a deep squat as soon as I get out of bed, the problem has all but gone. It’s like WD-40 for my back.

I’m now spending more time during every day getting into a deep squat even for 30 seconds at a time.

As they say, yard by yard, life is hard, inch by inch life is a cinch.

So, consider doing your 50-year-old self a favour and drop into a squat once a day. You’ll thank yourself for it because movement equals freedom. Freedom equals happiness.

P.S. Interested in how to get better at movement? Check out Adam Luther for inspiration and no BS videos.

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I’m a writing rookie on Medium, let me know if you enjoyed the article by giving it a clap or leaving a comment. It would mean a lot. Criticism welcome.

Helping people use mental fitness for a great life. Author of Mental Toughness Metaphors — Stories to inspire resilience anthony@threefifty9.com

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