Earlier this year, I collaborated on a pair of papers (1, 2) with Matthew Wallden, Global Head of Institute of Education for the Chek Institute and an absolute obsessive when it comes to applying ancestral lessons to modern life. The papers were all about how humans today are failing to honor their tissues at rest: by sitting in chairs, slumping on couches, and slouching at the computer. The sad fact is, we’re ignoring the myriad ancestral or archetypal resting positions that humans have been using for hundreds of thousands of years, and this is having huge consequences on our health.
I wrote a blog post explaining the consequences. Not only are modern resting positions destroying the health and viability of our connective tissues and muscle function, they’re even inhibiting our ability to control blood glucose levels. We’re getting injured more often, ending up with terrible conditions like osteoarthritis, and we’re making our already substandard blood glucose control even worse.
The point of all this is that sitting in one single position with the majority of our tissues supported by furniture is incredibly harmful. Instead, we should be shifting our body from position to position. We should be stretching this muscle in one position and stretching the opposing muscle in the next position. Our rest should be productive. It shouldn’t be turning off the entire body for 8 hours. It should be resting one piece while engaging another—and switching things up constantly. Even our rest, whether from our workouts or daily life, should involve movement, in other words.
Despite being “ancestral” or “archetypal,” it’s a foreign concept if you’ve never done it. These can be hard to visualize through text alone. So I’ve made a helpful video showing some of them. As you can see, these positions aren’t always “easy” or “natural,” especially if you’re coming from a background of modern resting positions (like all of us). But do what you can, and work toward achieving these resting positions. Even breaking up all that sitting with an hour or two of shifting ancestral positions on the floor will be a huge help.
I hope you enjoy the video, and I hope you give these a shot. You can also listen to my podcast with Matt here.
Let me know what you think. Which of the postures do you see your incorporating—now or moving forward?
Wallden, Matthew, Mark Sisson, “Biomechanical attractors—A paleolithic prescription for tendinopathy & glycemic control.” Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, Volume 23, Issue 2, 366 – 371.
Wallden, M., Mark Sisson, “Modern disintegration and primal connectivity.” Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, Volume 23, Issue 2, 359 – 365.