How did we come to sit? Maybe, a long time ago some trendy early human had a brilliant idea of sitting on a tree stump or a rock instead of squatting as everybody else did. And maybe this looked cool to some of the other members and soon they all began to adopt sitting on their behinds to keep up with the trend and be fashionable!

The fact is that sitting is counter productive in terms of structural/physical health and the level of activity that we humans are designed to maintain. Let's review the facts:
  1. Weight bearing. In upright posture, the weight of the body and any force that is exerted on the upper body is transferred through the pelvis and sacrum into the legs and into the ground. As a result of this transfer of weight into the ground, standing up is the next best thing to lying down for the spine.
    1. In a seated position, the weight bearing stops at the pelvis and sacrum and the amount of stress placed on the spinal discs increases significantly. To make matters worse, with every inch of translation of the trunk to the front, i.e., bending or slouching, the pressure inside the spinal discs increases. This increase continues in an exponential manner. That is 2, 4, 8, 16 times....etc. Therefore, micro-trauma occurs more frequently in the spinal discs and overall spinal degeneration progresses faster with sitting.

    2. Squatting is the natural form for relieving stress from upright posture and movement. If we look at young children, we see that they squat naturally when they want to sit while playing on the ground. Squatting allows the transfer of weight from the pelvis, the sacrum and lower extremities into the ground. The back also assumes a flexed posture that stretches the back muscles and soft tissue, relieving the tension that was built in them. Psychologically, squatting simulates a fetal position that provides a feeling of security. Our established personal, public and corporate/business environments can not accommodate squatting as an alternative to sitting on a chair. Besides, squatting for long periods of time becomes very uncomfortable because:
      1. Our muscles and soft tissue, after becoming used to sitting in a chair, are not conditioned to maintain and tolerate squatting easily. Squatting can be done, but one needs muscle reconditioning to accommodate this position.
      2. Even squatting, which is a natural position, is only meant for short periods of rest between long periods of mobility and activity. Long periods of squatting become uncomfortable, even if one is conditioned to do so.


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    go back to Aethyr's Big Health Related Metanode

Let's start with the physics.

1. Gravity acts to exert a force that attacts two objects together. Practically speaking, the force on us is always downwards, toward the center of the earth.

2. To keep an object upright, an equal force must be keeping it from falling down toward the earth.

Imagine two people, one sitting upright and the other standing upright. In both people, at the level of the pelvis (hip), the weight of the entire abdomen, torso, upper limbs and head must be supported by the pelvis. The amount of force acting on the pelvis is the same no matter if the person is standing or sitting because the weight above that point has not changed. Assume, for the purposes of this example, that there are no other supports for any other part of the body other than the seat itself (no armrests for example).

This idea of force being transferred to the ground through the legs and therefore not being put on the pelvis is pseudoscience.

I'll leave the issue of squatting to you, the reader, to figure out. The only thing I will say is that I think those kids in the playground were squatting because there was nothing nearby for them to sit on.


There is some truth to the claim that slouching and bending will add extra stress on the vertebral column, but again, this extra stress will arise whether the person is standing or sitting while slouching/bending. It is the slouching or bending that causes the problems, not the sitting down.

Sitting may encourage some people to assume a poor posture but it does not always follow that all people who sit down have a poor posture.


By the way, anyone who wants to eschew sitting because of believing in this pseudoscience is quite welcome to do so - it means there'll be less seats taken up, making it more likely I'll get one when I next take the subway.

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