Frankly Freddie – Sit!

Dear Freddie Fans,

I’m a sit expert and here to teach you how to stop sitting like a nut (literally and probably figuratively) . . . a cashew nut, and sit like me.

My human authority is Naomi Khan who knows what she’s talking about cuz she’s a spine surgeon.  She told me that most humans tend to round out their backs when they sit.  When your spine is in an improper position you’ll tend to have more back problems.  Listen to me!

Sitting like a cashew nut can damage the disks in your spine that act like little shock absorbers. This can cause the disks to degenerate, or for one side to bulge.  It can push against nerves, causing pain, or even rupture.  Ouch!

You can protect your disks by straightening the cashew.

Butt out!

Jean Sherer (another of my authorities) says your culture focuses on trying to stick out your chest (which might make you think you’re important) but doesn’t help your back.  Stop sticking your chest out and change the position of your pelvis, or butt.

Sherer says to imagine you have a tail like a dog. The tail would be right at the base of your spine.

“When you sit with a C shape in your spine, you’re sitting on this tail,” Sherer says. “It’s kind of like a dog with its tail between its legs, who is scared.”  (Obviously, Sherer has never been a dog and is taking her metaphor a bit too far.)

To straighten your back, imagine you need to wag your tail:

  • Bend the right way as you sit (we all bend somewhere when we sit).  
  • Untuck your tail.
  • Bend at the waist. Where you bend is important because where you  bend determines how you will sit.
  • Bend at the hips and you will be able to wag your tail. And make your back happy.

Sherer has a trick to do this:

  • “Stand up and spread your heels about 12 inches apart,”
  • Put your hand on your pubic bone — like a fig leaf covering up Adam in the Bible
  • “When you bend over, you want to let this fig leaf — your pubic bone — move through your legs,” This creates a crease between your pelvis and legs.”
  • This action also pretty much pokes your butt out, behind your spine.
  • “Now go ahead, sit down,” This puts your butt behind your spine.
  • Next, relax the back and chest muscles-do not stick out your chest, Your spine will line up like a straight stack of bricks. This will even let some of your leg muscles relax more.

“If you do this properly you will feel your hamstrings stretch and your quads relax. There should be a little curve at the lower part of your spine. You will put much less stress on your spine.”

Did hunter-gatherers sit less than we do?

A few years ago, anthropologist David Raichlen and colleagues decided to find out if (modern) hunter -gatherers sit less than most modern day people. They studied the Hazda, who live primarily off wild foods, such as tubers, honey and barbecued porcupines.  The researchers strapped heart-rate monitors onto nearly 50 Hadza adults for eight weeks and measured how often each day, they were just sat. The results were shocking.

They sat about 10 hours a day. Americans sit 9 to 13 hours each day, on average, (a study reported in 2016).

Still,  Hadza don’t have the back issues that  Americans have, even when they are older. “There hasn’t been a ton of studies looking into muscle and joint pain in the Hadza groups, but people are highly active across the life span. There are some declines in activity with age but nowhere near what you get in the U.S.” Raichlen says.

Not how much, but how we sit

So maybe the problem that creates back pain isn’t how much you humans sit, but how you sit?

“Sit up straight,” doesn’t mean to stick your chest out. Instead, stick your “tail” out, like me.

Proper sitting, head up, tail out.

Frankly yours,

Freddie Parker Westerfield, S.E.E.

Sit Expert Extraordinaire

Jenn Sherer

David Raichlen






Did you know: Sitting most of the day may lead to an early grave?

 Ai yi yiiiiii.  We spent the majority of our lives as “professional sitter-downers”.  As psychotherapists the only thing we were really concerned about was being sued, stalked or otherwise putting our licenses in jeopardy. Little did we know sitting and listening to people might have led to our early demise.

“Adults who are inactive much of the day may be more likely to die prematurely than people who don’t sit around a lot, regardless of their exercise habits, a U.S. study suggests.”

(Reuters Health)

People may also be less likely to die young if they break up sedentary time by moving around every half hour than if they remain seated for longer stretches of time without getting up, the study also suggests.

For the study, researchers examined data on 7,985 adults, age 45 and older, who were asked to wear accelerometers to measure activity levels for one week.

“We think these findings suggest that it is simply not enough to be active or move at just one specific time of the day, that is, exercise,” said lead author Keith Diaz of the Center for Behavioral Cardiovascular Health at Columbia University Medical Center in New York.

“We need to be mindful of moving frequently throughout the day in addition to exercising,” Diaz said.

“Persons with uninterrupted sedentary bouts of 30 minutes or more had the highest risk for death if total sedentary time also exceeded 12.5 hours per day,” noted Alter. “Conversely, in those whose daily sedentary volumes were low, uninterrupted bout lengths had little if any associated effects on mortality.”

“It’s possible that prolonged sedentary stretches might hasten death by causing what’s known as metabolic toxicity, said Dr. David Alter, head of cardiovascular and metabolic research for the University Health Network-Toronto Rehabilitation Institute in Canada.”

“The lack of activity in our muscles affects our ability to metabolize our sugars efficiently,” Alter, author of an accompanying editorial, said by email. “Over time, our body accumulates excess fat, which can lead to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer and death.”

From now on this blog will be written, illustrated and edited in a standing position . . . the good news is that we didn’t die young.